September 25, 2018 0 Comments

As my due date drew nearer, I remember being so nervous about what it would be like at the hospital. Would the nurses be nice? What if I needed an emergency c-section? Would my baby be taken from me right after birth? So many questions, but so little information available online! 

So after many failed web searches, we set out to create the first comprehensive guide to giving birth at a hospital on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island.

We spoke with 11 hospitals across the state and about 20 mamas to get information on policy and procedure as well as tips shared by mamas who have recently given birth in those hospitals.

The hospitals we spoke with were:

  1. Kapiolani Medical Center
  2. Queens Medical Center
  3. Kaiser Moanalua
  4. Castle Hospital
  5. Maui Memorial Hospital
  6. Hilo Hospital
  7. Kona Community Hospital
  8. North Hawaii Community Hospital
  9. Waimea Women’s Center
  10. Kauai Veterans Hospital
  11. Wilcox Hospital 

How to use this guide:

This guide is a great way to introduce yourself to the policies and procedures of your local hospital. But please keep in mind that every experience is different, so the information you see here may be different than what you experience.

To get an overview of what each hospital's policies and procedures are like, click here to see a comparison table including each of the hospitals listed above. The answers were gathered by speaking with nurses at each hospital. They are not official statements from the hospitals. Please keep in mind that the information presented in the table is subject to change. 

If you have any other information you’d like to contribute to this article, please let us know by commenting below or emailing info@cocomoonhawaii.com. Let’s work together to keep this guide up to date and as comprehensive as it can be. And I’m also sending a huge mahalo to all of the mamas and nurses that contributed to this article. We appreciate your generosity!

Oahu Hospitals

Queens Medical Center

Arriving at the hospital:

When arriving at the hospital, valet your car if the service is available at the time you arrive. The last thing you want to think about is where to park! The valets can validate your parking and even help you up to your room. For two mamas who arrived after hours, they parked in the parking garage and entered the hospital through the ER. Be sure to preregister so that your check in process is faster. And just a heads up, they will use a wheelchair to take you to Labor & Delivery. You won’t be allowed to walk.

The deets on the room:

Sounds like the rooms here are nice and big. They include a TV, WiFi, shower, chair/pull out bed, birthing balls and birthing stools.

What’s up with skin to skin?

As long as you are awake and there are no health complications for you or baby, skin to skin is available! The mamas in our interviews all got to do skin to skin immediately after baby was born and stayed in the delivery room for about 2 hours after baby was born.

Do I get to stay with my baby?

According to our mamas, baby gets to stay with you in your room. The only times when baby is taken out of the room are for baby’s bath, shots, and blood tests. But good news, your partner can go with the nurses and keep close to baby during all of these procedures.

Can my partner stay with me in the room overnight?

Yup! The hospital will provide a convertible bed, blankets, and pillows. We heard that the bed wasn’t too comfortable, so be sure to manage your partners expectations. ;)

Ok, the real question: what was the food like??

Apparently, the food is pretty good! You can order food and it is included in the cost of stay for mama. But your partner will have to pay for each meal. Our respondents said that it was $10-$15 per meal.

What was communication like with hospital doctors and nurses?

We got some mixed reviews on this one, but most of our respondents had great things to say about the nurses on staff. After reading through the answers we received, I’d remind everyone to speak up if something is bothering you, personally, or physically, even if you have to ask more than once. Don’t be shy mama!

Is there a lactation consultant on staff?

At the time of this writing, no. But the nurses are trained. So, to be fully prepared, I’d recommend researching some lactation consultants in your area prior to having your baby. If breastfeeding clicks for you right away, then you may not need to contact them. But if you need a little extra support, it may be nice to have some contact info on hand so that you don’t need to do any research with a hungry baby on your hands. ;)

Additional tips from those that have been there:

  1. Tell visitors to valet, especially if the lots are full.
  2. You can ask to extend your stay if you want.
  3. A photographer will come around to take pictures. You get one free print and will have the option to purchase more if you’d like.

Kapiolani Hospital

Arriving at the hospital:

Both valet and self-parking is available. If you self-park, you will get one free parking pass. Parking is also validated. As another option, you can be dropped off at the entrance, where an attendant can get a wheelchair for you and take you to check in. In the rush of getting to the hospital, don’t forget your picture ID! You will need it to check in with security before going to L&D. You will also need to check in again at the Family Birth Center. Your S/O will also need to check in and get a wristband. Another thing to keep in mind is that patients are not admitted on a first come, first serve basis. Rather, admittance is based on acuity & whether or not there are any open rooms. If there is a room available, you will be escorted into a triage room.

The deets on the room:

Based on feedback we got from our mamas, it sounds like some rooms are bigger than others. Also, there are two separate types of rooms: a triage room and a L&D room. Some of our mamas stayed in the same room throughout their process while others started in a triage room and then moved to a L&D room. For these mamas, they noted that the triage room was smaller than the L&D room and only one visitor is allowed in the triage room at a time. However, once you move into the L&D room, it is quite a bit larger and up to 5 people are allowed in that room. Every room is private.

Room amenities include: a TV with access to on demand movies and regular cable channels, WiFi, shower, reclining chair / pull out chair, and a bathroom with a standing shower (no tubs). However, please note that the monitors are not waterproof, so you are not able to labor in the shower. Other equipment included birthing balls. You can bring your own speakers or diffusers, but keep in mind, no candles or open flames. Our mamas were able to walk around provided that they did not have an epidural.

What’s up with skin to skin?

As long as baby comes out crying and mom is stable, baby goes straight to mom’s abdomen & can breastfeed as soon as baby starts showing signs of interest. You stay on the 3rd floor for about an hour and a half, then transfer to the 4th floor post-partum or Mother-Baby unit. And remember, partners can do skin to skin too!

Do I get to stay with my baby?

Baby can stay in the room with you during your entire stay if you’d like. But baby will have to go to the nursery if s/he is unstable at any time, for bath, screenings (hearing, heart, jaundice, & blood work), and sometimes the pediatrician assessments. You can ask the nurse to do baby’s bath in the room with you, so they don’t have to be separated from you for that. Or, your partner can accompany the nurse to watch their first bath. You can also request that baby is taken to the nursery if you need a minute to shower, rest, or just keep your sanity.

Can my partner stay with me in the room overnight?

Yes, you can have one adult stay overnight with you. There is a sleeper chair that pulls out into a twin-size bed, which is not the most comfortable. A pillow and blanket is provided for your partner.  

Ok, the real question: what was the food like??

We heard some mixed reviews on the food. Some said it was ok, some said it was terrible. There is a cafeteria and also a menu that you can choose from for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is also a celebratory meal provided for you and your partner.

What was communication like with hospital doctors and nurses?

Over the course of our interviews, we were reminded that Kapiolani is the largest and busiest L&D unit in the state. They also take care of some of the most high risk of patients. So unfortunately, that means that your nurse may not be able to stay at your bedside at all times because she most likely has multiple patients or is helping elsewhere on the unit. It also means that Kapiolani has some of the most skilled staff as well. All of the mamas we talked to raved about the nurses and staff. However, they did also mention that the nurses are in the room a lot, checking both mama and baby. So, it may be hard to get some sleep. Most physicians work with resident physicians so although your doctor isn’t physically on the unit at all times, s/he is always being updated by the nurses and residents.

Is a lactation consultant available to speak with?

Lactation consultants are available as well as a lactation class. The class isn’t mandatory, but it is recommended. You are also able to call the consultant after you are discharged. Use the lactation consultants as much or as little as you may need. And if you’re finding their help to be a little too much, don’t let it stress you out. Be sure to talk with you pediatrician and trust your own instincts.

Additional tips from those that have been there:

  1. The rooms are very cold!
  2. If you do have a c-section, only one person is allowed in the OR with you, except in the case of true emergency c-sections when no one is allowed in the room.
  3. If baby has to go to the NICU, your S/O or a family member can accompany baby over there. Once your recovery is done & you are able to get into a wheelchair, you can go to the NICU to visit baby.
  4. Kapiolani is a teaching hospital so you will have residents and students coming in to check on you. You can request no residents/students, but it isn’t always a guarantee. 
  5. If you have older children, they are allowed in the delivery room as long as another adult (other than you) is with them at all times. But they aren’t allowed to stay overnight in the postpartum rooms. Only one visitor is allowed in the triage rooms at a time (the rooms are very small).
  6. Kapiolani provides a free car seat check.
  7. There is onsite photography and you can purchase the photos online.

Kaiser Moanalua

Arriving at the hospital:

You can park in normal parking lot and can proceed to the 6th floor, which is where L&D is. Once you get checked in, you can let them know of any details of your birth plan or if you’re planning to save or donate your cord blood.

The deets on the room:

The L&D floor is newly renovated, so the birthing rooms are private and nice and big. There are two rooms available with tubs so that you can do a water labor if desired. If you would like this option, be sure to call ahead and let them know so that they can try to save a room with a tub for you. The room also includes a shower, TV, WiFi, reclining chair, 24-hour room service, birth ball, and squat bar. You can also bring your speaker and/or diffuser.

What’s up with skin to skin?

For our mamas that did not have c-sections, they were able to do skin to skin right away and were also encouraged to breastfeed. They were able to stay in the room for a few hours before being transferred to another room. For another mama who had an emergency c-section, she wasn’t able to do skin-to-skin for about an hour.

Do I get to stay with my baby?

Baby gets to stay with you during your entire stay. However, baby is separated from you for some tests and/or circumcision. But a partner is able to go with the baby if they’d like.

Can my partner stay with me in the room overnight?

Yes! There is a pull-out bed and/or a reclining chair, but our mamas recommend bringing extra pillows and/or blankets to make it a little more comfortable. Our respondents also reported that their partner was able to order room service as well.

Ok, the real question: what was the food like??

Our mamas shared that the food was pretty good! Food can be ordered off of a room service menu during breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours.

What was communication like with hospital doctors and nurses?

Doctors will come once a day and nurses will check on you and baby every hour. We were told that the nurses were able to help with caring for baby and things like changing a diaper when one mama was too sore to stand up.

Is a lactation consultant available to speak with?

Based on feedback we got, Kaiser has a great lactation program. The consultants come in to see you right away and come every day you’re in the hospital. They help you with any questions and help you nurse. They also allow you to call at anytime or schedule an appointment to come back if you still need help after you go home. Sounds like everyone was super helpful!

Castle Hospital

Arriving at the hospital:

The mama we spoke with parked in the main parking lot, fairly close to the entrance of the birth center, and then walked up to the entrance of the hospital. However, though she pre-registered through her ob/gyn's office, she still had to fill out a bunch of paperwork on that night (while in labor). She wasn’t sure if this was because they had trouble “finding her info,” or if this is standard practice even when you have pre-registered. So we would recommend pre-registering and also following up to make sure that everything is complete and ready. After the paperwork was complete, she was taken to a triage room. After being assessed, she was told that she “could stay” and had to walk down the hall to her birthing room.  

The deets on the room:

After speaking to all of the mamas across the state, it sounds like the birthing rooms at Castle are some of the biggest. Available equipment included birth balls, squat bars, and even a shower and tub.  

One thing to note is that you are typically able to stay in the same room that you delivered in during you entire hospital stay. However the mama that we spoke with had to move to a room upstairs, which was much less comfortable than the rooms in the birthing center.  

What’s up with skin to skin?

The mama we spoke with raved about this part of her experience. Here it is in her own words:

“I was able to hold my daughter immediately and once her umbilical cord stopped pulsing (which they let go for a long time!) and was cut, I was able to bring her to my chest for skin to skin and to attempt to feed.  This was my favorite part of my experience at Castle. Because the delivery had been smooth and there were no apparent issues with my baby - there was no rush to take her from me to weigh/measure etc. and she was able to lie with me for almost 2 hours.  I felt as though the staff was very considerate and gave my husband and I a lot of alone time to be just with her which was really special.”

Do I get to stay with my baby?

Baby will get to stay with you during the entire time except when he/she is taken for his/her 24 hour screen.  The protocol at Castle is to do this screen at exactly 24 hours, so this may come in the middle of the night.

Can my partner stay with me in the room overnight?

Yes. In the birth center, there is a bench that converted to a bed. When the family we spoke with moved to the room in the main hospital, there was an extra hospital bed where the S/O could sleep.

Ok, the real question: what was the food like??

Based on the feedback we received, it sounds like the food is average. But more importantly, it can be difficult to get anything to eat when the cafeteria is closed. Vending machines and other snacks were also unavailable, so be sure to plan ahead. Also, you may be able to order a patient meal for your S/O if the cafeteria is closed. Be sure to ask the hospital staff about this option.

What was communication like with hospital doctors and nurses?

I found the nurses were generally really helpful when needed but also gave us a lot of space during the days.  The CNAs were both amazing during our stay and we found they both went of our their to ensure we were comfortable and had all we needed.  The staff was also great when visitors came by and when our oldest daughter was visiting especially. They were more lenient with enforcing visiting 'hours' and were super accommodating.

I did feel that it was encouraged at Castle to discuss your 'birth plan' which was a nice change from my previous experience at Kapiolani.  Even though I didn't arrive with a traditional 'birth plan' I felt like my husband and I were included in most decision making. We had a particular request that strayed from the general 'protocol' and I didn't feel that this was looked upon negatively by any of the staff, but was encouraged to make our own choices (which I feel is not often what you expect in stories about 'hospital births')

Is a lactation consultant available to speak with?

Yes, the lactation consultants came by twice during our stay.  Thankfully breast feeding was going well so we didn't have too much to discuss.  The lactation consultants at Castle run an awesome Mommy and Me Hui that happens 2 x month (1st Sunday and 3rd Friday I believe).  I used to go to it a lot when I had my first daughter and found it so helpful to come and ask questions to the LCs and to the other Moms that were there as well.  You don't have to have delivered at Castle to attend either!

 

Maui Hospitals

Maui Memorial

Arriving at the hospital:

When arriving at the hospital, valet your car if the service is available when you arrive. The last thing you want to think about is where to park! For two mamas who arrived after hours, they parked in the parking area in the back, closest to the ER and then entered through the ER. Be sure to preregister so that your check in process is faster. And just a heads up, they will use a wheelchair to take you to Labor & Delivery. You won’t be allowed to walk.

The deets on the room:

The birthing rooms are fairly small at Maui Memorial Hospital. There is a TV with standard cable and a shower. A rocking chair is available upon request, but the hospital does not provide any other birthing equipment.  You can bring your own birthing ball and music player if you’d like.

What’s up with skin to skin?

The mamas we spoke with were able to stay in the delivery room for 2-3 hours after giving birth and were able to do skin to skin right away. Breastfeeding immediately was also encouraged.

Do I get to stay with my baby?

Baby gets to stay with you except for a few times that baby is taken away for his or her bath, tests, and circumcision. But, you can go with baby when they do these procedures and can also request that baby is never separated from you.

Can my partner stay with me in the room overnight?

Yes, if you are the only family in the room. There are 12 postpartum rooms. So if they fill up, then the hospital will start to have mamas share rooms. If you’re alone in your room, your partner can stay and can sleep in the reclining chair in the room. But be sure to bring extra blankets and pillows because they keep it cold in the rooms!

Ok, the real question: what was the food like??

The hospital gives you a congratulatory special dinner the first night you’re there. You get to choose chicken or steak and also get a red velvet cake for dessert. Sounds like this meal is pretty good, but that other meals are typical hospital food. Our mamas recommend bringing in your own food or having friends and family deliver some for you.

What was communication like with hospital doctors and nurses?

Doctors came in about once a day, but nurses are in the room frequently for vital checks.

Is a lactation consultant available to speak with?

While there is no dedicated lactation consultant on staff, there are several nurses that are certified and can help. So even if this service isn’t offered to you, but sure to ask for it.

Tips from those that have been there:

The rooms are cold! So bring extra blankets and warm clothes for you and your partner and also warm pajamas, gloves, socks, and a hat for baby.

Breastfeeding is tough. For one of our mamas, she found it harder and more painful than giving birth. So, ask for help at the hospital and be specific that you want to speak with a certified nurse. Don’t settle for nurses that aren’t certified or not willing to help. Ask lots of questions and remember that the doctors and nurses are there to help you.

Kauai Hospitals

Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital (KVMH)

Arriving at the hospital:

Our respondents self-parked and recommended preregistering with the hospital to make check in faster and easier.

The deets on the room:

The birthing rooms are nice and big and include a TV, WiFi, music player, birthing balls, rocking chair and a shower.

What’s up with skin to skin?

Skin to skin is available immediately after birth and breastfeeding is also encouraged. After birth, mamas were able to stay in the room for a few hours and shower while baby was getting cleaned up and measured.

Do I get to stay with my baby?

Baby is able to stay in the room with you in a bassinet and is only separated for routine tests. If you do find yourself needing a break or time without baby, the nurses can take the baby to the nursery.

Can my partner stay with me in the room overnight?

Yes, and there’s even a queen size bed! Other items in the room included a rocking chair and a round table.

Ok, the real question: what was the food like??

Our mamas said that the food wasn’t bad, but had friends and family bring food in from elsewhere. One thing to know is that there is a “stork dinner” available, which you can preselect from a set menu. The presentation is a little fancier than a typical hospital meal tray and one of our mamas specifically remembers a delicious piece of coconut cake for dessert.  

What was the attention and communication like with your nurses and doctor(s)?

The feedback we got was that the nurses were great. Attentive, but very respectful of new parents’ space and time.

Is a lactation consultant available to speak with?

Yes! So be sure to take advantage of this great resource.

Big Island Hospitals

Hilo Medical Center

We would love more feedback about the Hilo Medial Center! So if you have recently given birth there, please reach out to us!

Arriving at the hospital:

Parking is tight, so our mamas recommended getting dropped off at the entrance to check in.

The deets on the room:

There is a TV and WiFi in the room.

What’s up with skin to skin?

After surgery, mama and baby were able to stay in the room for a short while before baby was taken to the nursery. However the nurses were great about keeping mama up to date on what was happening with baby.

Do I get to stay with my baby?

Baby will stay in the room with you but will be taken for his or her hearing screening, circumcision, or under emergency circumstances.

Can my partner stay with me in the room overnight?

Yes, your partner is able to stay overnight and there is a bed provided for them. They are also able to receive one free meal.

Ok, the real question: what was the food like??
We hear the food is pretty good. There is a menu in your room and when you get hungry you call the kitchen to let them know what you want to order. Each meal comes with an appetizer, main course, dessert and drink.

How were the doctors and nurses?

We hear they’re great!

Is a lactation consultant available to speak with?

Yes!