Preparing for baby felt a lot like wedding planning to me. In both cases, everyone is happy for this big change that’s coming in your life, you get to register for fun things (and write a lot of thank you notes) and you have a long to-do list to tackle before you celebrate on the big day. The difference between a wedding and childbirth is, being a bride is considerably more fun than being in labor! I hate to say it, but it’s true (and you had probably already guessed that, anyway).
So think back to planning your wedding for a second. What’s one of the first things you and your fiance probably did? You started looking at venues. You didn’t plan to just show up somewhere on the most important day of your life having never seen the place, right? You wanted to know every detail about where you’d say your vows so you could plan your special day.
For both weddings and births, the venue is super important. When you’re having a baby, this means you should be familiar with your birth facility before D Day! Here are four reasons why you should make time for a maternity tour before baby’s birth day:
01. You’ll feel more prepared on delivery day.
Whether you’re a type-a, everything-is-planned-out-weeks-in-advance mama or a go-with-the-flow mama, labor is one of those situations you simply can’t predict. Will baby come early? On time? Five days late? Is your water going to break while you’re at HEB? Will you get an epidural or go without? There are so many unknowns that add to the uncertainty and fear some moms feel about childbirth.
That’s the most important reason why you should schedule a tour of your birth facility. No matter how or when your labor begins, you’ll feel so much better if you’re delivering at a place that feels familiar. Imagine this: your water breaks right after dinner. Your husband throws your bags in the car, you rush to the hospital, only to realize you don’t know where to park and you aren’t sure which door to go in. You’re panicking and feeling frustrated and starting to worry you might be that mom who gives birth in the parking lot.
Contrast this with suddenly going into labor, but knowing exactly where to park at the hospital, smoothly checking in at the family birth center and settling in your room with a relatively calm husband at your side. See how being prepared could help your pre-birth anxiety decrease?
02. You’ll get a sneak peek of what will happen when you check in for delivery.
The person who gives you a tour will walk you through exactly what to do when you arrive at the hospital, from start to finish. They will probably show you where to check in and let you see a delivery room. At some hospitals, you deliver and recover in the same room (unless you’re having a c-section). Other hospitals might have you delivering in one place and then move you to another room for recovery. You’ll want to take note of how big the rooms are – will it accommodate many guests? Is there a fridge where you can bring snacks? What about a DVD player in case you want to pass the time with your favorite movies?
Your tour guide will be able to tell you if moms go to triage first or if they settle in a room right away. Go ahead and ask about birthing balls and other items that may assist with labor. Check out where the waiting rooms are for family and friends and ask about accommodations for your spouse to stay in the room with you overnight. You can even ask how many patients each nurse is assigned per shift to give you an idea of how much you might see him or her.
03. It helps make everything feel more real for yourself and your spouse.
My husband and I took a childbirth class before our first was born, which included a tour of the family birth center. I will never forget walking through the double doors of the birth center and completely freaking out – all I could think was, “OH MY GOODNESS, NEXT TIME I’M HERE, WE ARE HAVING A BABY!” I started to panic not long into the tour – I felt myself getting light-headed and close to passing out. We found a quiet place to sit so that I could calm down. Up until that point, actually giving birth didn’t feel real to me yet. Something about actually seeing where I would have my baby left me feeling so unprepared for labor, motherhood, adjusting to life with a baby… everything. My instinct was to give into the anxiety I felt about becoming a mom.
Although it was hard to confront the fear I felt, I am so thankful I processed all of those feelings before my daughter was on her way. Sure, I was embarrassed for being the only pregnant mama in our childbirth class to lose it on the tour – but I doubt anyone remembers that except me! Plus, I had the next three months to read about labor anxiety management techniques, and I talked with my doctor at length about the pros and cons of epidurals.
One perk of taking a maternity tour that I didn’t consider until afterward was how it made my husband feel better about the whole delivery thing too. As a first-time mom worried about labor and delivery, it was easy to forget that childbirth was scary for my husband too. Anything you can do to put him more at ease before delivery will make the hubs a better partner for you during labor.
04.You’ll learn about other helpful services and groups available at your birth facility.
Your hospital or birth center might provide other services like breastfeeding groups, new mom meet-up opportunities or a chance to chat with lactation consultants if you need help breastfeeding. The hospital where I delivered had a baby scale where you could weigh your baby before and after nursing to see if they were getting enough milk. You might also look into a childbirth class. If you’re in the North Houston area, PACN, a non-profit pregnancy center, actually offers free childbirth classes to the community to help you prepare for baby.
Some birth facility maternity tours book up several weeks in advance, so check with your hospital ASAP about getting on the schedule.
Also, if you’re thinking about Fresh 48 photos at your hospital, make sure these sessions are allowed at your facility. Some hospitals contract with companies to provide photos after baby is born and therefore outside photography is not allowed.
I’m celebrating all things motherhood related to pregnancy and newborns! Get your FREE Essential Style Guide for Mamas here – it will make prepping for your maternity, fresh 48 or lifestyle newborn session super easy. As a bonus, you won’t miss a single blog post (and that includes your own special pregnancy or baby story if we celebrate motherhood together!)