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:
- Delivery/Hospital Stay
- Pain Management
- Baby Care
- 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.
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.
Below are some documents that can help you think through your wishes to help you have a positive birth experience.
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.
When should I pre-register for my delivery?
We recommend that you pre-register for your delivery between 18 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. You can pre-register by filling out our Online Pre-registration Form or by completing the pre-registration form that you received in your Maternity Center folder at your OB office. If you have any questions about your pre-registration, contact (515) 241-8348.
Should I call my OB provider or midwife before coming to the hospital?
Talk to your provider to get specific instructions.
How do I get to the OB Unit after hours?
- Iowa Methodist Medical Center - The Powell entrance (on the south side of the hospital under the blue awning) 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, the entrance can be gained by using the communications system located just inside the door at the Powell entrance. Security will quickly identify you and allow you access.
- Methodist West Hospital - The main entrance is open to the public Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. During the weekend, the main entrance is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. After-hours, please use the Emergency Entrance.
Do the rooms have CD players or iPod docking stations?
Iowa Methodist is the only hospital that provides CD players in the patient rooms. Neither hospital has 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, both 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.
Do either of your hospitals offer water births?
No, we do not offer water births at this time. Whirlpool tubs are available at both Iowa Methodist and Methodist West 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 delivery.
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 and Methodist West to provide 24/7 on-site neonatal support. View our Neonatal Support page to learn more about this partnership.
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.
Who does the circumcision in the hospital?
At both 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 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.
What are the cafeteria hours?
The following are the cafeteria hours at each of our hospitals. Both of our Maternity Centers offer room service that includes a wide variety of menu selections.
- Iowa Methodist Cafeteria Hours - Open Monday-Friday from 5:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. Open weekends and holidays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with the hot line closed from 1:30-4 p.m.
- Methodist West Cafeteria Hours - Open Monday-Friday from 6:30 a.m. - 7 p.m. and on weekends from 7 a.m. - 2 p.m. Holiday hours are from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Is there an estimate for how much the delivery will cost?
The UnityPoint Health Financial Clearance team can provide an estimate of charges. (At this time the estimate is only for individuals with single coverage.) You will be contacted by the Financial Clearance team prior to delivering to verify demographic and insurance information. Please note that the estimate is for the facility charges only. The estimate does not include the physician, anesthesiologist, other professional provider fees, or items which are not a covered benefit of your insurance plan. Actual amounts could increase or decrease depending on what may occur during your surgery and stay at the facility.
When should I provide payment?
We would be happy to take care of any payments prior to or at the time of service. This may also be done through the Financial Clearance team during your pre-service phone call with them or given to registration at the time of your arrival. For your convenience, we accept cash, check, or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or Discover). If the actual amount you owe is higher than your payment you will receive a statement for the remaining amount after your insurance has processed your claim. If the actual amount you owe is less than your payment the overpayment amount will be used to pay any other outstanding balances you may have with UnityPoint Health or a refund will be sent to you.
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.
What are my pain management options?
In addition to epidurals, both of our maternity centers offer analgesic medications, which are given through the patient's IV and are used to relieve pain. Our nurses are also trained in non-medical pain management techniques, including the use of birth balls, peanut balls and the whirlpool tub in each room. You are welcome to bring other items you may find useful in helping you during labor, such as massage tools, essential oils and music.
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's/sister's 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 allows 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.
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".
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). UnityPoint Health - Des Moines also provides services for the non-birthing partner. Learn more about postpartum depression and find information on UnityPoint Health - Des Moines Counseling & Psychiatry postpartum depression services.