Maternity Services Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the commonly asked questions that our Maternity Centers receive. We have divided the questions and answers into the following categories: Pregnancy, Delivery/Hospital Stay, Pain Management, Breastfeeding, Baby Care, and Postpartum Care.

If you have a question but cannot find the answer on our Maternity pages, submit a question using our Maternity Submit a Question form. 


What additional resources are available to me during my pregnancy?

Baby Talk is our free eNewsletter you receive every other week until your little one is born. You'll get detailed information about what to expect during your pregnancy and upcoming delivery.

What makes this eNewsletter different than the rest? It's all about local! There's nothing better than knowing what stores, services and groups are available right here in central Iowa. Click here to sign up for Baby Talk eNews.

When/how do I pick a provider/pediatrician for my baby?

We suggest having a provider selected for your baby by the time you pre-register for your delivery. You will be asked the name of the baby's provider on the pre-registration form. This person is different than your OB provider and will be caring for your child after he/she is born. We suggest talking to friends/family to see if they have any recommendations for providers. We have several providers throughout the Des Moines area and invite you to use our Find a Doctor tool to select a provider that is right for you.  Click here to learn more about choosing a provider for your baby

Delivery/Hospital Stay

Do I need to have a birth plan for my delivery?

The creation of a birth plan is not required and is totally up to the birth parents. Some parents have one and others don't. A birth plan is a game-plan for baby's arrival. You can never be totally in charge of your labor and delivery, but a birth plan helps to make sure that you and your support person are at least on the same page as your doctors and nurses. The birth plan is a place to make clear your desires about issues like pain meds, people involved, episiotomies and cord cutting.

Whether you have a birth plan or not, it's important to discuss your babies birth with your OB provider. You both should know exactly what your wishes are. And, there might be some things that you want but your OB provider doesn't quite agree with. You're much better off talking these things out before giving birth than on the actual day. And remember, birth plans are not legal documents -- they're more like basic guidelines. Health and safety of mom and baby always comes first, and birth plans change accordingly.

What are your visiting hours?

We at UnityPoint Health - Des Moines believe a strong support system is essential to the health and well-being of families. Please view our Visiting Guidelines page and use this information as a guideline for family and friends who wish to visit while you are in the hospital.

Do you have neonatal specialists available at your hospitals in case my baby needs extra help?

Blank Children's Hospital has partnered with the Maternity Centers at Iowa Methodist Hospital, Iowa Lutheran Hospital and Methodist West Hospital to provide 24/7 on-site neonatal support. View our Neonatal Support page to learn more about this partnership.

Who does the circumcision in the hospital?

At all three UnityPoint Health - Des Moines Maternity Centers it is the OB provider that performs the circumcision. If you have any questions about this procedure, please talk with your OB provider.

What if my pediatrician is from out of town?

If your baby's provider is unable to visit him/her in the hospital, an on-call pediatrician will see your baby while you are in the hospital. All pertinent records will be sent to your pediatrician's office for follow-up after being discharged.

Should I call my OB provider before coming to the hospital?

Yes, you should always call your provider before coming to the hospital.

How do I get to the OB Unit after hours?

  • At Iowa Lutheran Hospital - Parking at Iowa Lutheran is located in front of the main entrance. When you arrive at the hospital during daytime hours (5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.), please use the main entrance. After 8 p.m., please use the Emergency Entrance.
  • At Iowa Methodist Hospital - The Powell entrance, as well as the Powell Skywalk entrance, is open to the public from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. After 8 p.m., these doors are locked for patient security and safety. However, entrance can be gained by using the communications system located at the Powell and Powell Skywalk entrances. Security will quickly identify you and allow you access.
  • At Methodist West Hospital - The main entrance is open to the public from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and valet parking is available during this time. After-hours, please use the Emergency Entrance.

When should I pre-register for my deliver?

We recommend that you pre-register for you delivery by your 34th week of pregnancy. You can pre-register by filling out the our Online Pre-registration Form or by completing the pre-registration form that you received in your Maternity Center binder at your OB office.

Can you give me suggestions on what to bring to the hospital?

Click here to view a special page that we have developed to help you decide what to bring the hospital.

Do the rooms have CD players or iPod docking stations?

Iowa Methodist is the only hospital that provides CD players in the patient rooms. None of the hospitals have iPod docking stations at this time. You are welcome to bring your own players and use them during your stay.

Will you have birthing balls available to use during labor?

Yes, all three of our Maternity Centers provide birthing balls during labor. Please let your nurse know upon arrival that you would like to use a birthing ball.

What are the cafeteria hours?

The following are the cafeteria hours at each of our hospitals. All three of our Maternity Centers now offer room service that includes a wide variety of menu selections.

  • Iowa Lutheran Cafeteria Hours - Open daily from 6 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Iowa Methodist Cafeteria Hours - Open daily from 6 a.m. - 7 p.m.
  • Methodist West Cafeteria Hours - Open Monday-Friday from 2 a.m. - 8 p.m. and on weekends from 5:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Do any of your hospitals offer water births?

No, we do not offer water births at this time. Whirlpool tubs are available at all three campuses if mothers would like to labor in the tub, but once a certain labor point is reached, you will be asked to get out of the tub and prepare for labor.

Pain Management

At what point will I receive my epidural?

This varies from person to person and depends on the patient's individual status. Typically, a person may receive an epidural whenever they choose to get one. This is a decision that is made between each individual and their OB provider.

When is it too late to have an epidural?

It depends on the individual's own labor progression and it is a decision that is made with your OB provider. Typically, a patient will not receive an epidural after they have reached 9 cm.

Is an epidural my only option?

Iowa Lutheran Hospital offers nitrous oxide as a form of pain management during delivery. Nitrous oxide is more commonly known as laughing gas. It is self-administered and a great alternative to those not desiring an epidural. Learn more about nitrous oxide here.


Does the hospital rent breast pumps?

Yes. High quality, hospital grade breast pumps are available for rent or purchase. UnityPoint Health - Des Moines Home Care is proud to offer a selection of products for new moms and their babies including Medela breast pumps, supplies, nursing bras, tanks and cover-ups. The Home Care store is located in the Iowa Methodist Medical Center atrium and is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 515-241-4663 with questions and costs related to breast pump rental.

Is it ok to use my friend/sisters breast pump that she is no longer using?

It is not recommended that most store bought breast pumps be shared. These pumps do not have a closed system. It is possible that milk can get into the motor. (Note: Hospital grade rental pumps purchased from UnityPoint Health - Des Moines Home Care have a closed system that allow them to be used more than once). If the Hepatitis B virus is in the milk of the previous owner, it can dry within the motor. When the pump is used again it can reactivate the virus.  Now on the market is a breast pump called the "Hygeia Enjoye" that has an internal battery that can be charged and used without plugging it in. It also has a small filter that can be changed and used for multiple mothers.

When is it ok to begin pumping?

There is no definite time frame but our certified lactation consultants usually recommend that new mothers wait three weeks before they begin pumping. This gives Mom and baby time to get used to nursing only. There are exceptions to every rule and the lactation staff may tell you to start pumping earlier.

Baby Care

What support groups does the hospital provide after my baby is born?

At UnityPoint Health - Des Moines we currently offer two new parent group sessions that allow you to get together with other parents to discuss parenthood and life with a new baby.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough to eat?

We encourage all new parents to talk with their baby's healthcare provider if they have any concerns about weight gain or whether their baby is getting enough to eat. Below are a few indicators that will tell you if a newborn baby is getting enough to eat.

  • Baby seems calm and content after feeding
  • Feeds 8-12 times within 24 hours
  • Has at least 6 wet diapers and 4 dirty diapers larger than the size of a quarter each day
  • Regains weight back to birth weight by 2 weeks of age and gains 4-8 oz. per week after that for the first 3 months

How often should my baby have wet/dirty diapers?

A newborn baby should have at least six wet and four dirty diapers per day. Many times they will have a wet and dirty diaper with each feeding.

How much should my baby cry?

This varies from baby to baby but on average, a newborn baby will cry 1-3 hours per day during the first couple of months. Much of the crying period will be during the late afternoon or evening.

Why is my baby so fussy in the evening?

It is usually very normal for newborn babies to be fussy in the evenings for a few hours. They eat frequently, have more wet and dirty diapers, and are harder to comfort during that time of day. Although it is common for them to sleep better after that period of time.

Any tips on how to introduce our new baby to our pets?

We recommend downloading and reviewing a great resource from American Humane Association that "helps new and expectant parents and caregivers introduce their infants and children to their pets - and their pets to new infants and children - safely and confidently." Click here to read more about and download "Pet Meets Baby".

Postpartum Care

When will I receive my baby's Social Security Card and Birth Certificate?

Before you leave the hospital you will fill out the necessary paperwork for your son/daughter's Social Security Card and Birth Certificate. Please allow up to 12 weeks to receive these items.

What services do you provide for postpartum depression?

Please do not hesitate to talk with your doctor or OB provider if you feel you are struggling with postpartum depression (PPD). Click here to learn more about postpartum depression and for information on the UnityPoint Health - Des Moines Counseling & Psychiatry postpartum depression services