Health Education

Ascension Sacred Heart Maternity and Women’s Center FAQs

By Kelsi Gulig July 6, 2020

Ascension Sacred Heart nurses answer frequently asked questions about delivering a baby at the Maternity and Women’s Center.

Expecting a baby? Sacred heart Monogram Maternity has answers for you.

From the moment you discovered you were pregnant, you'll likely have lots of questions. Here are the most frequently asked questions moms-to-be are asking about their stay at the Ascension Sacred Heart Maternity and Women's Center.

1) How do I get to the Maternity and Women's Center? Where do I park and enter once I'm on the Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola campus?

Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola is located at:

5151 N. Ninth Ave.
Pensacola, FL 32504

Upon arrival at the Pensacola campus, please park in the Ninth Avenue parking garage. You can also unload comfortably by pulling up temporarily under our entryway awning. All parking is free.

The Maternity and Women's Center is located next door to our four-story Studer Family Children's Hospital. Please enter under the awning that says “OB Emergency” in red.

Wheelchairs are available in the first floor lobby. For extra security during nighttime hours, you may be asked to check in at the front desk before continuing to the Maternity and Women's Center. You also may be asked a few health screening questions, depending on our community's current level of safety precautions. Visitors after 8:30 p.m. will be asked for ID and given a visitors pass.

Take the elevator to the 2nd floor. When you get off the elevator, turn to the right and follow the red signs for "OB Emergency Care Center."

2) I just found out I am pregnant! What is the first thing I should do?

Congratulations on the news of your pregnancy. The most important thing to do first is to select an OB-GYN. You will want to select a doctor who accepts your insurance and has delivering privileges at your choice of hospital – which, hopefully, will be Ascension Sacred Heart. You can find a doctor who delivers here at sacredheartbaby.com.

Once you've chosen an obstetrician, the next important step is to schedule your first visit. The doctor will examine you, then perform various tests and a review of your medical history. Every step is done to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.

3) Are there birthing and parenting classes offered at the hospital? When should I register for classes?

Yes, Ascension Sacred Heart offers a variety of childbirth and parenting education classes designed to help you prepare for the big arrival of your bundle of joy and for the days that follow back home with your new baby. To register for classes or see a list of upcoming dates, please visit sacredheartbaby.com. Registration is required for all classes and is offered conveniently online.

We recommend that moms-to-be complete any childbirth classes by the 36th week of pregnancy. However, early registration is encouraged, as classes and tours fill up quickly. For any questions about classes, please call 850-416-6378.

4) What insurance does Ascension Sacred Heart take?

Ascension Sacred Heart accepts most major insurance plans. You can call your insurance provider to confirm the hospital is in your network. For questions or concerns, please call the Patient Access Department at 850-416-2229 (BABY) or 850-416-4421.

5) Should I pre-register for admission to the hospital, and how can I do this?

Yes, pre-registering for your hospital stay is encouraged, as this helps to make your admissions process smoother and faster when you arrive at the Maternity and Women's Center for the birth of your baby. For questions or assistance, please call the Patient Access Department at 850-416-2229 (BABY) or 850-416-4421.

Our birth designer will also help you pre-register for your hospital stay during your Monogram Maternity appointment.

6) What should I pack in my hospital bag?

Download this "What to Pack Checklist."

7) Do I need to choose a pediatrician before I come to the hospital?

Yes, your little one will need to undergo several newborn screenings both in the hospital and within the first week of delivery, so having a pediatrician already lined up is an important step in preparing for your baby's arrival. We recommend that you choose your baby's doctor and visit the pediatrician's office prior to delivery so you can ask questions regarding breastfeeding, check-ups and immunizations.

For assistance in choosing a pediatrician, please call 850-416-1600 or view our list of pediatricians at sacredheartbaby.com.

8) Will I have a private room?

All rooms in our Maternity and Women's Center are private.

9) During labor, am I free to walk around, or do I have to be hooked up to an IV and fetal monitor?

We encourage you to talk to your obstetrician or midwife about your wishes. Most moms with healthy pregnancies are free to walk around the unit during early labor. As your labor progresses, electronic monitoring may be done on a continuous or intermittent basis, depending on the condition of both mother and baby. We also offer wireless  monitoring so that moms who wish and are able can move around more easily.

10) What pain management options are available? Are epidural and anesthesia services available 24/7?

Ascension Sacred Heart provides 24/7 on-site anesthesia dedicated solely to our maternity patients. Having an anesthesia team dedicated for maternity patients helps us provide you with timely pain relief at all hours. This is especially important in the event of an emergency when minutes can make a difference in outcomes.

Our team provides epidurals to ease your pain and make you more comfortable during childbirth, as well as anesthesia for C-sections and emergency surgeries.  IV pain medications are also available. Talk to your doctor about your preferences for pain management. If you plan to use anesthesia during the birth of your child, you will need to view a mandatory film on the procedure and complete paperwork prior to your seventh month of pregnancy. This film and paperwork are available at your OB/GYN's office and from our Monogram Maternity birth designer.

11) May I eat while I am in labor?

Solid foods are not recommended while you are in labor. This is a precaution to protect you in the event an emergency C-section is needed. Moms may have ice chips. Additional dietary options (such as popsicles) may be ordered by your physician.

12) Can I hold my baby skin-to-skin after delivery?

Yes, skin-to-skin means your baby is placed belly-down, directly on your chest, right after he or she is born. Your nurse will dry off and cover the infant with a warm blanket and hat, then settle your baby onto your bare chest beneath your hospital gown. The first few hours after birth are a very important time for you and your baby to get to know each other. Snuggling skin-to-skin will help with that.

We recommend allowing your baby to stay skin-to-skin with you uninterrupted for at least 1-2 hours after birth. Compared with babies who are swaddled or kept in a crib, skin-to-skin babies stay warmer, cry less and maintain more stable vital signs, such as heart rate, respiratory rate, blood sugar and blood pressure. The first hour is also the best time to try to breastfeed your newborn for the first time.

After skin-to-skin time is complete and the baby's temperature and vital signs are stable, the nurse will get your baby bundled so that he/she can begin visiting with the rest of the family.

13)  How many people are allowed in the delivery room? Are there any restrictions on who can be in the delivery room?

Please check with our staff closer to your baby's arrival about the rules for visitors and support people. You may call the Monogram Maternity office at 850-416-6378.

To avoid any risk for infection, visitors experiencing any symptoms of a possible infectious illness – such as, but not limited to cough, cold, fever, rash, vomiting or diarrhea – are not permitted to visit.

14)  When are visiting hours?

Your support person may visit at any time, at your discretion.

15) Can children visit?

At this time, children are not being allowed to visit in the Maternity and Women's Center.

16) Is my support person allowed to stay with me overnight?

Yes, the Maternity and Women's Center has a sofa bed in each room.

17) During our stay, can the baby be in the room with me instead of in the nursery?

Yes, Ascension Sacred Heart practices couplet care, which means that one nurse will care for both mother and baby, and you and your little one will remain together while in the hospital, with most of your baby's tests and procedures done at your bedside. This family-centered approach encourages stronger bonding and helps both you and your significant other learn your newborn's sleep patterns, breathing sounds, eating patterns and care needs before going home – all with the guidance of your personal nurse, who's expertly trained in care for newborns.

If you need to rest at any point and prefer your little one be taken to the nursery, please speak to your nurse. Your little one can be carefully watched until you're ready to reunite.

18) What other security policies are in place?

Ascension Sacred Heart takes special precautions to make sure your baby is safe and to prevent infant abduction:

  • Identification Bracelets - Your baby has two identification bracelets with numbers that match the ones on your bracelet. These numbers will be verified with you as they are placed on your baby in the delivery room. The father, significant other or coach is also given a matching band stating that this is the only other person that may pick up the infant from the nursery. Do not remove your baby's identification bands or the ones you are wearing. Please remind your spouse or significant other not to cut their bands off. We will not give a newborn to anyone without a band on his or her wrist. If the bands loosen or come off, please tell your nurse. Make sure you check your baby's I.D. bracelet EVERY TIME your newborn is taken to the nursery and brought back to you.
  • Security Transmitter – Your newborn will also have a security transmitter placed on his or her ankle for safety. If someone tries to remove the transmitter from the baby's ankle, the elevators and stairs are locked down. Do not open, remove or tamper with this transmitter. If for some reason the transmitter becomes soiled, loose, or disconnected, please let the staff know immediately.
  • Badges – Do not allow anyone without the proper identification to remove your baby from the room. A staff member will return your baby to the nursery at certain times for nursing assessments, procedures and physical examinations. All Maternity staff will be wearing Ascension Sacred Heart I.D. badges with a solid-pink background.
  • Bassinet Card - A bassinet card is located at the head of the baby's bassinet. Keep this card there until the baby goes home.
  • Watchful Eyes – Never leave your baby unattended. When you use the bathroom, please take the baby with you, or have family, friends or your nurse watch him/her for you. When taking a shower or leaving the floor, call a staff member for assistance if no family member is available to watch your infant.

19) I plan on breastfeeding my baby. What services does the hospital offer to support breastfeeding mothers?

All of our nurses are trained in breastfeeding support. But before you leave the hospital, you will be visited in your room by one of our lactation consultants, who will be available to you should you need help feeding your little one during your hospital stay. Our board-certified lactation specialists are available in the hospital to assist new mothers with breastfeeding seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

After leaving the hospital, many mothers have questions and concerns regarding breastfeeding. Breastfeeding support is available by calling our "Warm Line" at 850-416-8088, open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Messages left after 5 p.m. will be returned the next morning. Our board-certified lactation consultants are also available for private consultations Monday through Friday from noon to 4:30 p.m. Appointments are required and can be made by calling our Monogram Maternity office at 850-416-6378.

20) I plan on feeding my baby formula. Is formula provided in the hospital?

Yes, while we do our best to support breastfeeding, we also understand that not every mom chooses to or is able to breastfeed. The philosophy and policies of the Maternity and Women's Center are to support and help mom with feeding her baby in whichever method she chooses. Our trained staff will teach new moms how to prepare formula properly. We focus on making sure that your little one is well fed during your time in the hospital. We provide formula for babies to eat throughout their entire hospital stay.

21) What kind of information will I go home with?

Before your discharge from the hospital, you will be provided with our complimentary take-home book – "Babies Do Come with Instructions." This 30-page guide covers a variety of topics, including newborn care, common infant ailments and characteristics, feeding your baby and caring for yourself after delivery.

22) What special services are available if you have a high- risk pregnancy?

Ascension Sacred Heart is the Regional Perinatal Center - one of only 11 in the state - and Northwest Florida's only center designed for women with high-risk pregnancies.

Because we are also the only local hospital where an obstetrician is onsite 24/7, Ascension Sacred Heart offers an emergency care center especially dedicated to treating unexpected issues in pregnant women. This ensures that women who are in labor or who are experiencing complications are seen right away by an in-house, board-certified obstetrician who can provide care until your doctor is able to arrive at the hospital. In an emergency, time can be critical to the health of both mother and baby, so a mom's immediate access to care is important. Learn more about how Ascension Sacred Heart cares for high-risk pregnancy here.

23) Should complications arise during or after my delivery, is Ascension Sacred Heart equipped to care for my newborn? Is there a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) on premise?

Right next door in our four-story Studer Family Children's Hospital - the only children's hospital in Northwest Florida - Ascension Sacred Heart has the region's only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Should your newborn arrive premature or critically ill at our Pensacola campus, or if complications occur during your delivery, take comfort in the fact that just moments away is a board-certified neonatologist, a doctor specially trained to care for our smallest patients. This specialist can be summoned to your baby's side immediately, day or night.

The NICU is staffed 24 hours a day by full-time neonatologists, neonatal nurses, developmental specialists and other therapists and technicians.

24) Are recording devices (like a video camera and tripod, cell phone, or digital camera) allowed in the delivery room? May my family and I use our cell phones?

Still photos are allowed during both vaginal and C-section deliveries. However, we ask that staff members' faces not be photographed during a delivery.

Videos of deliveries - both vaginal and C-section - are not permitted. You will be asked to sign a consent confirming an understanding of this policy.

All recording devices - including cell phones, digital cameras and video cameras - are permitted after the birth of your baby.

The Maternity and Women's Center works with “Welcome Newborn” professional newborn photography to provide parents with studio-format photos without having to leave the comfort and privacy of your room. Following the birth of your baby, a photographer will be available to capture images of your little one. Should you choose to have photos taken, your baby will be given his/her very own password-protected web page. Since the baby's page will only be visible to those with the password, this feature allows parents to control who has access to their baby's information. For your family's security, last names are never used. A variety of price packages are available, ranging from $49.95 to $320. There is no sitting fee and no obligation to purchase photos. Visit welcomenewborn.com for information, or leave a message for the local office at 850-416-4030.

25) Does the hospital encourage and follow birth plans?

Yes, at Ascension Sacred Heart, you can expect the ability to tailor your childbirth experience to meet your own unique needs and wishes through Monogram Maternity, a complimentary birth-design service to help you customize your childbirth experience at our Maternity and Women's Center. Learn more about Monogram Maternity here.

26) What is the facility's view on doulas? Are they allowed in the labor and delivery rooms?

For patients who choose to hire a doula, your doula will be permitted to accompany you in the Maternity and Women's Center. Ascension Sacred Heart does not currently employ doulas, but we can provide information about doulas in our Monogram Maternity office. Please call 850-416-6378.

27) What special birthing amenities does the hospital offer?

Each of our all-private rooms is designed to provide a home-like atmosphere, with a warm, traditional cherry-wood bedroom suite, decorated in calm, soothing colors. Each room provides a TV, telephone for patients and guests, a walk-in shower for the extra comfort of our new mothers and built-in sleepers for your spouse or support person.

As a special amenity for you, one of our professional photographers will stop by to give you the opportunity to document your special day, order keepsake photos of your newborn and share pictures with family and friends from a secure website - all from the comfort of your hospital room.

Tubs are available in our new private birthing suites, which are available to moms who choose an unmedicated labor and and have no high-risk conditions in their pregnancy. Moms may choose to spend the early portion of labor in the tub. Please discuss your wishes with your OB doctor, and upon admission to the hospital, mention to our team that you wish to use the tub. Moms are not permitted to deliver in the tub. Mirrors are also available, should you wish to use one to watch the birth of your baby.

The birthing suites include other amenities such as birthing balls, bars and other comfort aids. Our specially-trained obstetric nurses utilize natural methods of pain control including massage, breathing techniques, position maneuvers and aromatherapy – all in a relaxed, home-like atmosphere.

28) Can I give my baby the first bath?

Yes, we encourage parents to help give the first bath. Not only is this a great bonding experience for new families, it is also a great opportunity for your nurse to share tips about bathing your newborn.

Ascension Sacred Heart follows the World Health Organization's recommendation to delay our babies' first baths until 8-24 hours after birth. Giving your baby more time to adjust to life outside the womb helps improve baby's temperature control, stabilize blood sugar and reduce risk for infection. Parents may choose to forego your baby's bath during your hospital stay. The first few days after your baby comes home, his or her bath will consist of a gentle once-over with a soft, damp, warm washcloth and a mild soap. Once the umbilical cord has fallen off (and in the case of boys, when the circumcision site heals), regular baths are permitted.

29) Can my baby be circumcised during his hospital stay?

Yes, if you wish your newborn to be circumcised, please discuss this with your pediatrician before arriving at the hospital. Some local pediatricians choose to come to the hospital to perform newborn screenings and circumcisions, but your pediatrician may choose to do circumcisions during your baby's first office visit.

30) How can I prepare my pet for a new baby in the house?

Upon your admission to the hospital, please ask your nurse about our “Baby Scents” program. Right after your baby's birth, we will swaddle the infant in one of our special cloth towels. This towel can then be sent home for your pet to sniff and adjust to before your baby's arrival home.

31) How will I receive my baby's birth certificate?

For your convenience, a representative from our Medical Records Department will visit you in your room to help you apply for your baby's birth certificate.

32) I'm considering banking my baby's cord blood. Do you work with a cord blood bank? If not, how can I arrange to transfer baby's cord blood? 

Before your baby is delivered, moms who choose to bank their babies' cord blood need to request and obtain a kit from your cord-blood bank of choice. Your doctor and medical team will help to collect the cord blood. Patients are then responsible for sending the blood off to the cord-blood bank.

33) Will the hospital help me preserve my placenta?

Should you choose to preserve your placenta our team will help you to keep it chilled until you are discharged from the hospital. You will need to sign the required paperwork and provide your own cooler and ice for transporting your placenta out of the hospital.

34) Can I decline antibiotic eye ointment (ilotycin)? 

Though strongly recommended, parents may choose to decline this service, as well as metabolic screening tests and infant hearing screenings.  Because these screenings are required by Florida law, parents who refuse these tests must sign a declination form, which the hospital is required to submit to the state.

35) How many births take place at the hospital each year?

As the most preferred childbirth center in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, in addition to offering the regional center for high-risk pregnancy, Northwest Florida's only OB Emergency Care Center and the area's only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Ascension Sacred Heart delivers more than 4,000 babies each year at our Pensacola campus - so we have a special knowledge and experience that you won't find anywhere else.

36) How long is the stay for a vaginal delivery? A C-section?

For healthy vaginal deliveries, most mothers and babies should plan to stay for 48 hours. Mothers undergoing a C-section typically go home within 48 to 72 hours. The hospital stay for either mother or baby may be longer if one of you experiences a complication.

37) Do you allow smoking?

No, Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola is a tobacco-free campus.

38) When can I take my baby home?

Parents and visitors are not permitted to take your baby out of the Maternity and Women's Center until your baby has been medically cleared for discharge by the doctor.

39) Does Ascension Sacred Heart offer midwives?

Yes, we have launched Ascension Medical Group Sacred Midwives at Pensacola. Certified nurse midwives Esther Davis, CNM, and Amber Price, CNM, provide personalized, compassionate prenatal and follow-up care to women desiring a natural, low-intervention birth experience. They graduated with their bachelor's degrees in nursing from the University of South Alabama in Mobile and received master's degrees in nursing from Frontier Nursing University in Hyden, Kentucky. They are board-certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board. Price has more than 13 years of labor-and-delivery experience, with four of those as active duty Navy. Davis has more than 40 years of women's healthcare experience, including 20 years as a certified nurse midwife and 20 years in labor-and-delivery, postpartum and newborn nursery care.

Esther and Amber see patients in their new office at Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola's Medical Office Building, located at 5153 N. Ninth Ave. For information or appointments, please call 850-416-6384.

40) What about women desiring a natural childbirth experience?

Pregnant women desiring a natural childbirth have greater access to care thanks to the opening of new birthing suites at Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola.

New private birthing suites opened in the summer of 2020, designed for women expecting low-risk births. With this addition, the Maternity and Women's Center offers five new rooms - three of which have tubs to be used in labor - as well as a selection of birthing balls, bars and other comfort aids. Specially trained obstetric nurses focus on methods of pain control including massage, breathing techniques, position maneuvers and aromatherapy. This addition brings labor and delivery to 20 beds on the Pensacola campus.

The opening of our new birthing suites means that women in our community who choose to have a natural, low-intervention birth can also have the peace of mind that comes with having specialized doctors and nurses prepared for emergency care just down the hallway. Now, the addition of our midwife service brings a new option for pregnancy and childbirth care, combined with the level of safety that can come from the area's only OB Emergency Care Center, the region's only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the only local hospital with an onsite obstetrician 24/7.

Women wishing to utilize the birthing suites are asked to talk to their healthcare provider and schedule an appointment with Ascension Sacred Heart's birth designer, who meets with patients to learn about their labor and delivery preferences, including wishes for pain management and medications, room setup, visitors and support people, movement during labor, positions and amenities. The birthing suites are available for patients of Ascension Medical Group midwives and OB/GYNs, as well as any community OB/GYN with delivering privileges. To learn more or schedule a birth design appointment, call 850-416-6378.

41) What are the requirements for using the birthing suites?

Patient admission criteria include:

  • Patients must be 37 weeks or greater
  • Must be in active labor 4-6 cm making cervical change or as otherwise indicated, admitted with the provider in attendance at bedside.
  • Patient deemed a candidate for intermittent monitoring
  • No condition indicating maternal or fetal instability (i.e. meconium staining, bleeding or abnormal or undetermined fetal test)
  • No prenatal condition anticipating NICU at delivery
  • All patients must complete a Monogram Maternity visit
  • Patients must have the ability to consume clear liquids throughout labor
  • Patient must bible to move around throughout labor
  • Patient must be a candidate for delivery outside of typical labor bed if desired

Patients are encouraged to:

  • Deliver without medication intervention
  • Have support person and family members present
  • Walk and move around throughout labor
  • Utilize labor tools (ball, chair, aromatherapy, bar, etc.)
  • Utilize hydrotherapy for pain management
  • Utilize services of a doula for support throughout labor

***Induction of labor will not be performed in this space.

For questions, please contact our labor-and-delivery manager at 850-416-4405 or the Monogram Maternity birth design office at 850-416-6378.