I usually give group tours every 2-3 months on an early Sunday evening and can also do private tours for couples when it's most convenient for you. Tours usually last 1-1.5 hours depending on how busy the Labour and Delivery and Mom and Babe wards are at the time. I have included pictures of Victoria Generals Labour and Delivery Unit and the Mom and Baby Unit at the end of this blog post. When you are walking around the hospital ask yourself, what types of items might I like to bring? Do I find the rooms hot/cold/comfortable? How do I feel about birthing here? Your birthing location is very important, writing out a list of questions can help you plan and put your mind at ease. Here are 24 questions I get asked on a regular basis:
1) What Birth Aids are available?
Adjustable Beds: All the beds have easy access buttons to control height and vertical incline. A squatting bar can be added for labouring and birthing. The foot area is usually removed after birth when the midwife or doctor needs to inspect the perineum area for any possible tears. One big benefit of an adjustable bed is that various labouring positions can be used. It can be raised for standing, swaying or leaning on with pillows or lowered and used with a birth ball.
Birth Balls: VGH has a range of different sized birthing balls for clients to use in most rooms. Usually the 65cm ball fits a wide range of pregnant moms, please don't hesitate to ask staff for another size if you need it. Birthing balls should be used with a waterproof pad.
Observation Mirror: There is a mirror available on a large stand for moms who would like to view while pushing/giving birth. For some mother's, using a mirror can help you focus while pushing.
Robes: The robes available have snaps on the upper shoulder area, which are convenient when you need to change it after having an IV. You are also welcome to bring your own, but keep in mind it may get a bit messy.
Shower: There is a small sit/stand up shower available to moms, I recommend bringing water shoes or non-slip sandles that you don't mind getting wet.
Towels: All rooms are stocked with small face towels and some larger towels for use after a shower, they are somewhat small so if you are wanting to, you are welcome to bring your own.
The following items are not available at the hospital, if you have hired me as your doula I can bring some of the items listed when requested:
Small electric fan, hand held fan, heat packs, electric candles, music player, shower caps.
Bathtubs and birthing pools: Unfortunately VGH does not have any bathtubs or birthing pools at this time.
2) Can my partner stay with me overnight?
If the Mom and Babe ward is not busy, chances are you will have your own room. If you would like your partner to stay with you and it's busy, I recommend requesting a private room. They are approx. $199 per night, some extended medical plans will cover the costs. Please contact them ahead of time to be certain. The beds provided for partners are large fold out chairs that convert to a bed. Nurses will supply you with bedding and a pillow but you are welcome to bring your own, I recommend having a coloured pillow so they are not confused with hospital supplies and removed. Partners can come and go any time. There is a washroom available in the room for moms only, your nurse will show your partner to a main bathroom down the hall.
3) Can my baby stay in my room?
As long as your baby is not admitted to the NICU, your baby will be rooming in with you. It is hospital policy that moms do not leave baby unattended at any time. If you are alone and needing to use the phone, washroom or shower, please ask a nurse to stay with your baby, they are always happy to oblige.
4) Does the hospital allow cell phones/photos/videos?
Cell phones, cameras and video recording equipment are all welcome. It is requested that only the labouring momma, partner, doula images be captured. Professional photographers are also welcome as long as they become a fly on the wall and do not get in the way of Midwives, Doctors, Specialists, Nurses or other hospital staff. Small table top clip-able tripods are welcome, larger tripods are not as the labouring rooms are small. Out of respect, please ask your caregivers and/or staff if it's ok that they be in any photo's or video's as not everyone is ok with it.
When it comes to Cesarean sections, camera's and video equipment are permitted in the OR, it is usually advised to not take any head shots of hospital staff. If you are wanting to record the procedure on video, you will need to ask permission first as not all staff will allow it.
5) What are the visiting hours in the Mother and Babe Ward?
Visitors are welcome any time between the hours of 10am-8pm. It is recommend that visitors come between 10am-3pm to give mom and baby a chance to rest in the afternoon. Contacting mom or dad by phone before visiting is also a good idea, just in-case they are sleeping. Mom's, please don't feel obligated to pack visitors into every minute of the day. A newborn baby will usually sleep for a longer period over the first 24 hours, if possible try to keep visitors to a minimum so you can bond and rest with baby. Also, if you are sharing a room with another mom, please consider that she and her family needs rest as well. If you find your room buddy is having a large, ongoing stream of visitors, please let the nurses know, they will try to ensure a more quiet time so that everyone can get plenty of rest. You will be pretty tired, possibly exhausted and can always have guests come to visit once you are home. There is a new positive trend happening with families, they are now delaying visitors until a week after arriving home. This delay allows mom to have a better bonding and breastfeeding experience. If you do have visitors, I encourage you to send them this helpful chart before you go into labour. It is perfectly ok to request that all sick visitors wait until they are feeling better. If they are showing any signs of a communicable disease or the flu, it is better for them to wait until they are fully recovered. There are masks provided for those with a light cough and for those who have not had a flu vaccine. All visitors should wash their hands before holding baby.
6) How does the hospital deal with un-welcomed, well meaning visitors?
Occasionally I do get asked this question and it's fairly easy to answer. Mom, you have every right to request that no one visits you and your new family after baby is born and even more so during labour. Just say the word and hospital staff will tactfully request that visitors wait at home. There has been the rare occasion where the birth family has requested no visitors and they show up anyways, family and friends are excited to greet the new baby and for some it may be hard to sit at home and wait. Making it a part of your birth plan can help, by explaining to un-welcomed guests that you've decided to not have visitors until a few days after you're home is perfectly ok. It's your birth and baby and you deserve to not be disturbed if that is your family's choice. Most people will understand and the ones that don't, I suggest putting them to work. You can try asking them to kindly help support you, by taking out the garbage or recycling, walking the dog, watering the garden, cleaning the kitchen or doing the laundry, I'm sure they would be more than happy to help.
7) Can I leave the room during labour?
Yes you can, it's very important to move and be active during labour. If you are on Telemetry Fetal Monitoring, you will be asked to stay very close, usually no further then the nurses station depending on how well the machine is picking up the signals. You are free to walk around the Antenatal and Labour and Delivery Wards and down the hall to the right. There is also a 'hidden staircase' that I can show you during the hospital tour. If it's nice outside, there is an outside veranda you can also walk along. As long as the nurses know where you are at all times, you are welcome to walk around the hospital. In situations where your caregiver is in and out visiting other clients or you are due for blood work or another test, the nurses may request that you do not leave the 3rd floor.
8) Does the hospital have a NICU?
As mentioned above, yes the hospital does have a NICU ward which is located near Labour and Delivery. If your baby needs special assistance or is a high risk baby, he/she may end up in the NICU. Depending on the level of care needed, there are times where a baby may need to be sent to the mainland, one parent is permitted to ride along with baby.
9) What is the policy regarding doulas?
Doula's are welcome to support their clients at VGH, she/he is permitted where ever mom is. If mom is having a Cesarean section, only one person is permitted in the OR at a time, usually her husband/partner. If mom is single, her doula is welcome to join her but paper work must be filled out prior to surgery, your caregiver can help facilitate mom's wishes. In very rare circumstances, professional birth photographers are also welcome, but only when the partner and/or doula is not in the OR. Either person is welcome to leave for a short time so that the photographer can take pictures.
10) Can I leave right after I have my baby?
Mom's, you are welcome to leave as soon as your careprovider gives you the go ahead. Unless you or your baby need extra assistance, there is no reason you are required to stay.
11) If labour slows or stops can I leave and go home?
Yes, as long as your careprovider has advised you to stay, you can go home and return if that is what you choose to do.
12) What items does the hospital supply to mom's/babies?
Peri-bottles: You will receive two peri bottles, one in labour and delivery and one in mom and babe, I recommend you take both home. One can be kept in the diaper bag and one in your bathroom.
Net Underwear: You will be given one in labour and delivery and 2-3 in mom and babe. They are disposable but can be washed, rinsed and hung to dry. I've known of pairs lasting months, they are comfortable and dry very quickly. I recommend using them so you can keep your nice one's for after you've fully healed.
Feminine Pads: You will be given a pack of 8 to use in Labour and Delivery and another pack of 8 in Mom and Babe. You are welcome to take the remaining home with you. If you use all that was supplied, please don't hesitate to ask the nurses for more. You are also welcome to bring your own.
Disposable diapers: You will be given approx. 4-6 diapers to use, the hospital is trying to cut back as a cost saving and so if you need more, you will have to ask. You are also welcome to bring your own.
13) Is there a limit to the number of people I can have in the delivery room?
Currently you can have 3-4 people; your partner, doula, photographer and another if you choose. Keep in mind, the more people the hotter and more crammed it will be. I suggest that you see how you are feeling before inviting a 3rd or 4th person into the room.
14) Can I keep my placenta?
Yes, you can keep your placenta, you will need a hard structured cooler labeled with mom's name and contact information, a medium-large sized Tupperware container and a large zip lock bag. Your care provider will put it in a bio-hazard bag. If you are planning on encapsulating your placenta, it is recommended that it be packed with ice within the first hour to keep it from spoiling. Your encapsulation specialist should be contacted right away to transport it. If you have hired me to encapsulate it, I will take it withe me when i leave.
15) Can children visit during labour?
It is not recommended that children visit the Labour and Delivery ward. Siblings can wait with an adult in the waiting room and then text when they arrive. Sometimes the wait can be long, potentially 24 hours or longer, so it may be better for children to wait at home.
16) What security policies are in place?
Infants are given censor bracelets to wear on their ankles, if they are taken past the Mom and Babe ward, the sensor will sound the alarm.
17) What equipment is supplied in the Mom and Babe rooms?
Adjustable hospital bed, adjustable tray table with mirror, tv (for rental), phone jack (when renting a phone), washroom with shower, sink, small chair, bedside table and bassinet. In most rooms you will also find a reclining chair that makes into a bed for your partner.
18) Is there students/residents present?
Yes, there are always a student or two and a few residents on hand. You have a choice whether or not they are present or if you are ok with them doing any procedures. If you are my doula client, your preferences will be included in your birth plan. Some parents have requested that they be a fly on the wall and only observe, your wishes are always respected by hospital staff.
19) Can I eat or drink during labour?
Yes, your are welcome to eat and drink when you want. It is recommended that you eat easily digestible foods, red meats should be saved for after birth when your appetite is high as they usually are taxing to the body during labour. Your body has a big job to do, and will usually choose contractions/labouring over digestion. There is a chance your body will reject it which is perfectly normal.
20) If I go into labour in the evening do I have to go to emergency first?
No, you can still use the front entrance, you may need to be buzzed in by security depending on the time. The main hospital entrance is locked from 9:00 pm - 5:00 am. You will find the intercom button to the right of the large glass doors.
21) Do I have to pay for parking?
Yes, it is suggested that you pay for a week parking as you may be there for up to 3 or more days and it is cheaper to pay for the week. If you or any visitor plans on staying for a shorter amount a time, tickets can be purchsed at an hourly rate, in this case you will need to remember your stall number.
22) Is there internet access?
No there is no WiFi available, it is suggested that you call your cell phone carrier to increase your data plan for a few days so you will not have to pay overage usage charges.
23) When we arrive, do we need to check in at the front desk, or can we go straight to the Maternity ward?
You are welcome to head straight up to the Maternity ward. It is the first set of elevators to your left, just past the Tim Hortons. Once you have arrived on the 3rd Floor, go to your left and head down the hallway, you will see a large desk with nurses, you will be asked your name and if you are in labour. You will then be assigned a room where your caregiver will join you. If you are being admitted to Antepartum, one of the nurses there will show you where to go.
24) What time is discharge?
When your caregiver has given you and the staff the go ahead and signed all required discharge paper work, you can leave, usually by 11 am. You are welcome to request a later time if needed unless the Mom and Babe ward is busy, you may be asked to leave sooner depending on how you and baby are doing. The nurse assigned to you at discharge will need to see your infant car seat first before you leave. I suggest that you have it checked by a Certified Car Seat Technician. Most Fire Stations can be called and an appointment made with the Tech. Head bumpers are not CSA Approved and will need to be removed. A receiving blanket placed on either side of baby can help keep baby's head in the proper position. Below are some tips, always check with CSA Regulations and individual Car Seat Manufacturers Instructions before use.
Labour & Delivery Unit is found on the 3rd floor. After stepping off the elevator head to the left, straight down the hall and past the kitchen area to the first nurses station. You will be directed to your room.
After the birth of your little one, you will be wheeled to the Mother & Babe Unit on the 3rd floor. Babies must stay in their bassinet if you or a family member or friend want to take them out of the room. Babies can not go beyond the red security lines on the Mom & Babe Unit.
Caesarean Sections are done in either of the 2 OR rooms in the Labour & Delivery Unit. Partners will be asked to gown up (found in the hallway bathroom) and wait in the waiting room until mom is prepped. A nurse will come and the partner. Items will be left in the waiting room so it's recommend that no valuables be brought. If you have a Doula, she or a family member/friend can stay with them. Recovery can take anywhere from 2-4 hours and also depends on how busy the Mom & Babe Unit are at the time.
Kitchen areas are found through out the Labour & Delivery, Antepartum and Mom & Babe Units. Food is for mothers use only. If you are bringing food from home please label it with mom's name and the date of arrival. Partners are welcome to bring food from home (you may need anywhere from 2-7 days worth, please also label with mom's name and date.
There is a microwave available for use, you will need to bring your own microwavable dishes as none are supplied. Water and ice are available for all.
There is a cafeteria located on the bottom floor, a Tim Hortons on the main floor by the South Entrance and vending machines near the North Entrance. You are welcome to order take out, ask the driver to meet you at the front North Entrance at a designated time.
If mom has a food allergy or sensitivity, please contact the hospitals nutritionist so it may be noted in your menu plan.
Occasionally a baby may be born with jaundice and may need to have therapy light. In this situation most babies will be able to stay in the room with their parents. An eye mask will be placed over baby's eyes and her/his hands may be covered with a mitten to stop them from pushing the eye mask off.
If you are wanting a private room, it's recommended that you fill out a Private/Semi-Private Room Request Form which can be obtained during a Hospital Tour or by going the the main floor admin desk. Private rooms are a charge of $195 per day and may be covered by extended medical. Check with your insurance carrier before hand so required forms are filled out in time.
All rooms consist of a bathroom (shared in Semi-private and double rooms). Partners may use the bathrooms in the private room only.
Bassinet, a few diapers, diaper cloths, face cloths, receiving blankets, tv (separate cost and you will need ear phones to listen if in a shared room), lounge chair for partner, chair for guest, food tray.
Please keep in mind windows are not tinted and people can see in from the parking lot, a window shade is available for privacy.