Hospital Waiting Room Etiquette

Do you have good hospital waiting room etiquette?

Hospital Waiting Room
Photo © iStockPhoto

Hospital waiting room etiquette are the behaviors that you want to see in the guests that are waiting for their family or friends to have their baby. Believe it or not, hospital waiting rooms can get wild and out of hand. Here are some quick tips to ensure that hospital waiting room etiquette has your guests waiting patiently and calmly:

  • Noise Level
    Nothing says we're anxious to meet your baby like a waiting room filled with happy family members. Now that that picture and multiple it by ten or so families at one time. A loud waiting room can prevent some families from hearing their names called if a medical staff member comes to share news of their loved one. It's also still a hospital, with sick people who are trying to heal and get well, usually preferring some quiet.
  • Number of People
    The number of people in a waiting room is totally up to you. Though some moms-to-be prefer to have their family stay at home until after the baby has arrived, others like knowing that their family and friends are just down the hall. That said, some waiting rooms can only accommodate small numbers of people. If you have a large group of friends and family gathered, consider having some of them wait at home for a phone call that it's closer to time.
  • Food
    There may be vending machines which may or may not work. You may also have access to the cafeteria in the hospital or nearby restaurants. Be mindful that the smells of food may waft into the labor and delivery floor, making all those laboring women hungry or sick to their stomachs. So, watch what you eat. It is also polite to ensure that eating is allowed before you chow down. As for your garbage, be sure that it fits into the garbage can. If it doesn't ask someone for help in locating an appropriate receptacle. This keeps the hospital waiting room nice for others.
  • Privacy
    It's hard to have any privacy when you're in close quarters with so many people. But it can be very important to some families. If a they need to have a private conversation, try to give them space. Some hospitals have special rooms for this, but others do not. Think about if the tables were turned. This issue of privacy and confidentiality is an important one for your family as well. Let's say you get an update on your family member and she really doesn't want the whole waiting room to know that her cervix has a lip. Keeping information quiet and to yourself is important.
  • Phones and Texting
    It's hard not to have phone conversations to let others know what's going on. When you do try to move away from the bulk of the crowd or find a secluded spot down the hall. Fire codes usually prevent you from actually waiting in the halls. Texting is one way to eliminate the phone conversations in some cases. Though remember, in general, put your cell phone on vibrate. As for texting mom in labor? The only thing you should consider texting to the back are positive affirmations.
  • Contacting Labor and Delivery
    You're anxious for an update and it's been hours! Having babies is hard work and doesn't usually happen very quickly. Time in the waiting room tends to stand still. Some hospitals have a receptionist sitting at a nearby desk that does check in at triage but also can help you find out updates. There may also be a phone on the wall for this purpose. Remember not to hog the phone or make personal calls. But also realize that you're not being updated most likely because there is nothing to update. Be sure to respect mom's wishes about coming back to her room in the hospital.
  • Sleeping
    Hospital waiting room chairs can be really, really uncomfortable. This doesn't mean that you should put several chairs together. Some hospitals will provide small pillows and blankets, most do not.
  • Advice
    It never ceases to amaze me as I'm sitting in a waiting room that one family announces, largely to each other, some medical thing going on. A second family will jump in and start giving advice on what they should do or how the doctor or midwife is wrong. Certainly it's something to think about, but getting all bent out of shape when you don't know what all is really going on can be hazardous to your mental health while waiting.

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