Last Wednesday, we went on a tour of the maternity ward at the hospital where I’ll be giving birth, Clinique St-Michel in Etterbeek, part of the Cliniques d’Europe group. It took about an hour and a half and I really feel it was very useful. We came out with peace of mind regarding procedures and plenty of useful information. I strongly recommend going on one of these tours at your hospital if you have the opportunity.
We were showed around and given explanations by the head nurse. We didn’t actually see the rooms in the maternity ward because they were fully booked (yikes), but got to see the labour room, delivery room, a big bath they have available for pain relief, the room where baby will first be cared for and the neonatal section. I am quite relieved to see that, although it’s a hospital setting with all the necessary technology and tools, it is a relatively small unit, the staff seems friendly and they have a good balance between medicalised and natural birthing.
Other information that was given to us was when to go to hospital, which entrance to use, where to park, what to take, pain relief available, alternative methods for pain relief, mobility, necessary documents, procedures, etc. We were quite happy with all information given and all my questions were answered (and they were quite a few). They are also quite supportive of breastfeeding and during the stay (usually 5 days!!!) they teach you little by little how to take care of your baby so you’re better prepared once you leave. Baby stays by your side 24hrs a day, which some people feel may be a bit distressing, but I am very happy to hear. They warn you it will be hard at first, but are very supportive and there to help you.
You can remain relatively mobile during labour (given there are no complications and you haven’t had an epidural) and monitoring is done on and off more or less every 40min, so no wires constantly attached to you. IV is only given if you need it and not systematically. It’s also nice to know baby and mom have skin to skin contact before being taken away for routine examinations, cleaning and dressing (unless baby is distressed). I really feel family time is very important during those first moments after the birth.
I hope I’m this satisfied when it’s time for the birth itself!