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1055 Southwest Oralabor Road
Ankeny, IA 50023

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180 Jordan Creek Pkwy
West Des Moines, IA 50266

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950 E Hickman Rd
Waukee, IA 50263

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1250 East 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50316

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2720 8th Street Southwest
Altoona, IA 50009

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3625 North Ankeny Boulevard
Ankeny, IA 50023

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2103 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312

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4020 Merle Hay Road
Des Moines, IA 50310

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6520 Southeast 14th Street
Des Moines, IA 50320

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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 
  • Breastfeeding
  • 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. 

Delivery/Hospital Stay

Do I need to have a birth preferences established for my delivery?

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

Whether you have birth preferences or not, it's important to discuss your babies birth with your OB provider or midwife. You both should know exactly what your wishes are. And, there might be some things that you want but your OB provider or midwife 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 preferences are not concrete -- they're more like guidelines you want to follow. Health and safety of mom and baby always comes first, and birth preferences change accordingly.

Below are some documents that can help you think through your wishes to help you have a positive birth experience. 

Birth Preferences Checklist


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, please submit a question to our team.

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

Please refer to the instructions given by your provider about when to come to the hospital if you think you are in labor.


How do I get to the Maternity 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 24/7 and the OB ED is right inside the Powell entrance.

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.


What tools are available for positioning to use during labor?

Yes, both of our Maternity Centers provide positioning devices to use during labor. This includes but is not limited to birthing balls, peanut balls, CUB pillows, birthing chair, squat bar, mirrors and more. Please let your nurse know upon arrival that you would like to use a positioning device.


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 child's pediatrician or primary care provider 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 child's provider'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 or someone from the circumcision team that performs the circumcision. If you have any questions about this procedure, please talk with your 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.


Does Iowa Methodist or Methodist West do delayed cord clamping?

Yes! It is now standard of care to delay cord clamping as long as mom and baby are both doing ok. Let your labor and delivery nurse know about your preference on delayed cord clamping and talk to your provider at any prenatal visits.


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 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 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.


Breastfeeding

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. By sharing a breast pump the risk of infection and contamination is increased. If a mother chooses to use a previously owned pump, it is recommended to replace all parts including tubing. 

It would be best to look at the manufacturers guidelines and manual to see if it is a closed or open system. Some pumps do not have a closed system. For a pump with an open system, this means 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.


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 offer many new parent classes and groups. To view a full list of our Birth & Baby Care classes, please click here.

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.

Learn more about why babies cry and different soothing techniques. 


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.

Learn more about why babies cry and different soothing techniques. 


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".


Will the nurse check my baby's car seat?

No. Our nurses may encourage you to tighten the straps on your baby, but they are not certified car seat technicians and, therefore, they are not able to check you car seat's installation. To find a car seat technician to help you install your car seat, perform a car seat check and to answer general questions, please click here.


Is it ok for my baby to sleep in bed with me/ co-sleep?

Share a room, NOT a bed with baby. A baby should not sleep on a couch, chair, bed or other adult sleep surface alone or with anyone else. Room sharing reduces the risk of SIDS. Baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else, including siblings or pets. Having a separate safe sleep surface for the baby reduces the risk of SIDS and the chance of suffocation, strangulation and entrapment. 

If you bring your baby into your bed for feeding or comforting, remove all soft items and bedding from the area. When finished, put baby back in a separate sleep area made for infants, like a crib or bassinet, and close to your bed. 

Couches and armchairs can also be very dangerous for babies, if adults fall asleep as they feed, comfort, or bond with baby while on these surfaces. Parents and other caregivers should be mindful of how tired they are during these times.


Are inclined sleepers, sleep positioners or sleep wedges safe?

Avoid sleep products and positioners that claim to prevent SIDS and other accidental sleep-related deaths. Car seats, swings, Rock n' Plays, bouncy chairs, slings, and Boppy pillows should NOT be used for sleep. 

 There is currently no known way to prevent SIDS, nor are there any products that can prevent SIDS. Evidence does not support the safety or effectiveness of wedges, positioners, or other products that claim to keep infants in a specific position or to reduce the risk of SIDS, suffocation, or reflux. In fact, many of these products are associated with injury and death, especially when used in baby's sleep area. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other organizations warn against using these products because of the dangers they pose to babies. Avoid products that go against safe sleep recommendations, especially those that claim to prevent or reduce the risk of SIDS.


How can I keep my baby safe while sleeping?

View Safe Sleep information from our experts at Blank Children's Hospital as well as information about Safe Sleep provided by the Hannah Geneser Learning Center and Safety Store. 


Parents used to be told to have babies sleep on their stomach. Why is it different now?

We appreciate that parents were told to put a baby to sleep on their stomach to reduce the chance of baby choking if they spit up. However, since the Back to Sleep Campaign in 1994, the SIDS rates in the US have been reduced more than 50% with no increase in choking deaths.


Is it OK to place baby on his/her side to sleep?

Placing babies to sleep on their side poses the risk of baby rolling onto their stomach. The American Academy of Pediatrics highly recommends that every baby is placed completely flat on their back for ALL sleep, naps and nighttime.


How can you keep baby warm without a blanket?

Blankets, soft mattresses and other loose bedding that may cover baby's airway creates an opportunity for baby to re-breathe the air that was recently exhaled and high in carbon dioxide. This is a potential hazard for infants vulnerable to SIDS as they are unable to respond appropriately. The recommended alternative is a wearable blanket, such as a sleep sack or dressing baby in layers. Both options will keep baby warm AND safe!


Where should baby sleep if I don't have a crib or pack and play?

A clean, thin blanket placed on the floor in a safe area of your home is ALWAYS a better option that placing baby to sleep on a couch, recliner or other adult sleep surface. Placing baby to sleep on these types of surfaces not only increases the risk of SIDS but other accidental sleep-related deaths as well.


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 OB, Midwife or Primary Care Provider (PCP) 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 resources.