Hospital Pre-Registration Prior to Labor

Parents checking into hospital in labor
Photo © RubberBall Productions/Getty Images

Hospital pre-registration is where you turn over certain information about you, your pregnancy, and your insurance or payment information to the hospital, prior to your labor. The goal of hospital registration depends on who you ask. For hospitals, the biggest benefit is the ability to plan resources. Knowing that they have a larger than normal (or smaller than normal) set of mothers due at any given time, they can plan services, everything from hospital birth classes to OB anesthesia coverage, during a given time period.

As an expectant parent, you're probably doing it for convenience. When you show up in labor, you want to skip to the fast lane. You've given all the basic info, you would like to not sit in the waiting room having contractions and move on to triage or the labor and delivery area. Many mothers believe that pre-registration will afford them this benefit. The problem is that this doesn't always happen.

The Typical Pre-registration

  • You wait for labor. (You may be asked to bring a copy of your pre-registration information sheet in your labor bag.) (3rd Trimester)

It's usually a minor process once you've done the hard work of choosing the best hospital for your needs. Your practitioner will also send a copy of your medical records over to the hospital electronically or via fax, usually around 36 weeks gestation.

This is a separate process from pre-registration and has nothing to do with that process, nor do you need to do anything to trigger this release of records. Though you may want to verify this has happened at your later prenatal periods. There are some things that occasionally slip through the cracks. A delay in getting your medical records may mean a delay in treatment or testing you don't need.

How Registration Benefits You in Labor

Once you're in labor, you go to the hospital. (Where you go depends on what day, what time and your hospital's protocol. Most people proceed directly to labor and delivery.) This is where reality and expectations differ. The vast majority of moms expect that it works like a hotel, you give your name and reservation info and immediately are seen. Nope. Basically, you do the whole registration process over. You pull out your insurance card. You give your name. Your address. Your due date. Your practitioner's name... You might even find that you have to wait awhile to give this information depending on who is at the desk and how well staffed they are at that time.

If you are in advanced labor, this may mean that you are having contractions in the waiting room with lots of other families watching. Some hospitals do allow you to go to triage for a bit more privacy. But if your labor is advanced enough, there are plenty of stories of moms and dads being separated while dad registers mom and she goes off to have a baby alone. Be insistent that your support team stay with you. Many hospitals have the ability to do mobile registration if need be.

If this is something that you're concerned about, be sure to ask up front, what the process is for the hospitals you're interviewing. Remember the hospital is typically your choice. Hospital policy of this nature can also be driven by what consumer demand is, so be sure to speak up about the pre-registration process and don't get caught asking, "Why did I even bother to pre-register?"

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