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5 Tips to Prepare for Your Hospital Delivery

If you’re planning to deliver at a hospital, here are several tips you can do to help prepare for a personalized delivery experience. Doctors and nurses who provide care to moms during labor and afterward are focused on the patient experience now more than ever. 

Almost ALL hospitals track the results of their patient experience through surveys and use that data to meet customers’ needs and provide outstanding experiences. This change means hospitals are competing for your business which puts you in the driver’s seat for your delivery experience.  

You can help create the delivery experience you want to have with your healthcare team. Here are five quick tips to prepare you for your personalized hospital delivery experience: 

1. There’s an app for that! Most hospitals have a smartphone app and some have apps that are specific to pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum care.  Search in your smartphone app store and check out the app for the hospital you plan to deliver at. At Dignity Health facilities we use the my. Baby app. Apps often include tours of the hospital, pre-registration, education, kick-counters, links to classes provided at the hospital, a list of delivery experiences offered and more. An app can give you some insight to what the hospital offers and help you get a feel of what to expect.

2. Plan it. Birth plans are very popular and there are a ton of birth plan templates online. If you are planning on delivering in a hospital and have a birth plan, make sure you match your birth plan with a hospital that offers the experiences you desire. If you would like to bring a doula, have aromatherapy, music, an epidural for pain control, or even a natural birth, check with the hospital you plan on delivering at to ensure those services are supported. Labor and delivery healthcare providers are familiar with birth plans and want to partner with you on your delivery experience. A birth plan is the perfect way to communicate your wishes to your healthcare team. Keep in mind that each experience is different and there will be occasions when you or your baby’s healthcare needs can override your birth plan. Even if your delivery does not go 100% as planned, your healthcare team will try to honor your wishes as much as possible.  Flexibility and clear communication between you and your healthcare team are the keys to success.  

3. Know where to arrive. The day you go into labor can be stressful, but you can minimize the chaos by knowing exactly how to access the Labor and Delivery department at your hospital. Some hospitals have specific entrances for Labor and Delivery patients and others may have signage to guide you. Either way, you are going to want to know how to get to the Labor and Delivery department prior to being in labor. This includes knowing where to park. This information can often be found on the hospital’s website, app, or by taking a hospital tour if one is offered.  

4. Bring the essentials, but only the essentials. Many moms plan on bringing a car seat, an outfit for the baby, plenty of blankets and a change of clothes for themselves. You will need all of these things but you will also need your identification card/driver’s license and your insurance card or information. The hospital staff supports you as you fill out a form to send to the state of Arizona for your child’s birth certificate. You will need to provide your child’s parent(s) names, addresses, birthdates, occupations, as well as other racial, ethnic, and demographic information. This is a legal document and can be tedious to complete. You will want to ensure the document is complete and accurate before it is sent off to the Arizona Office of Vital Statistics. Changing it after it has been submitted can be challenging. Do not bring any valuables like large amounts of cash or expensive jewelry. Valuables can get misplaced or lost forever in a hospital as most do not have a safe keeping place. Do not bring a bunch of extra stuff. You will likely be moving to different rooms in the hospital and you will not want to have to pack up a bunch of things each time you move and when you are discharged from the hospital.  

5. Take that hospital class. Hospital classes should be on your to-do list. They are designed to be very low cost or even free, but are chock full of rich information that can contribute to a healthy delivery for you and your baby. Some think hospital classes are designed to make money. On the contrary, hospital classes are designed to educate you, prepare you for your delivery and even help you set realistic expectations for delivery and postpartum journey. Is this your first baby? You should consider taking a childbirth class to help you understand what to expect from your body during labor and different ways to manage the birthing process. Do you plan on breastfeeding? Take a breastfeeding class. Many will tell you breastfeeding is “natural” and while it is natural; it can also be frustrating, painful, and exhausting. A class can help you understand breastfeeding, set realistic expectations, and help you successfully meet your new baby’s needs.

Preparing for your hospital experience in these ways will help you partner with your healthcare team during and after your delivery. Creating the experience you desire for your delivery and hospital stay is achievable. Take advantage of the opportunities to empower and educate yourself and make your baby journey uniquely your own. 

Andrea Hassler is the Nursing Director for Women and Infants Services at Dignity Health – St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. She is passionate about women’s health, childbirth, and maternity care. She leads a team of 330 labor and delivery, postpartum and neonatal intensive care nurses, and believes in the importance of childbirth education. Andrea has served as the Arizona State Chair for the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrical and Neonatal Nursing (AWHONN), and has been an active member of the March of Dimes Maternal Child Health Board and the Board of Directors for the Arizona Perinatal Trust. 



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