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What to Expect at the Washington Hospital Birthing Center

Pregnant Moms and Their Loved Ones Can Take a Tour

What should you expect when you’re expecting? If you are pregnant, particularly for the first time, you may be wondering about the process and what it will be like. Washington Hospital offers tours of its Birthing Center to help expectant moms and their loved ones see firsthand where they will bring new life into the world.

“A tour gives you the chance to see where you will give birth and get your questions answered,” said Denise Alfaro, office manager at the Maternal Education Center. “If we don’t have an answer for you during the tour, someone will call you back. We want to make sure expectant moms have all the information they need before they deliver at Washington Hospital. A tour is not mandatory, but we highly recommend it, especially if this is your first time giving birth at Washington Hospital.”

The Birthing Center is located on the second floor of the main hospital at 2000 Mowry Avenue in Fremont. It was completely remodeled in 2012 and provides comprehensive care to expectant and new moms, and their newborns.

Expectant moms should tour the Birthing Center a month before their due date. Alfaro encourages them not to wait until then to schedule the appointment, however, because the tours fill up.

The tours are available every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and the first, second and fourth Saturday of the month at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. The tour takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

Expectant moms can bring their husbands or partners with them on the tour as well as other loved ones, including children over the age of 3. The tour starts in the conference room on the ground floor of the Hospital, where expectant moms receive a packet of materials and learn about some of the services that are available at the Birthing Center.

“We also talk about what they might want to bring with them when they come to the Hospital to deliver their babies,” Alfaro added. “Expectant moms might want to bring their own gowns to use after delivery or certain toiletries with them. They will also need to have a car seat properly installed in their vehicle to take their newborn home.”

Room With a View of Your Baby

Participants then go upstairs to see the Birthing Center, where they tour the rooms and learn about the amenities. The Birthing Center has 18 labor and delivery rooms as well as 12 postpartum rooms.

Most of the time, new moms can stay in their labor and delivery room, which can be very convenient because you don’t have to move to a new room, Alfaro said. If the room is needed, new moms move to a postpartum room.

All the rooms are designed with the comfort of mom in mind, she added. The beds have padded cushions and there is a convertible couch so dad or another loved one can stay overnight. Each room has a TV that includes educational videos that could be helpful for new parents.

The Birthing Center has been designated as “Baby Friendly” by the World Health Organization. Babies stay in the room with new moms so they can bond. This focus on bonding and skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby is integral to being a Baby-Friendly facility.

“Unless there are complications, the baby always stays in the room with mom,” Alfaro said. “It encourages active care of the infant. New parents can hold their baby, change their newborn’s diapers and build confidence caring for their baby. They also get to know their babies’ feeding cues.”

The Birthing Center’s focus on breastfeeding is also part of its Baby-Friendly designation. There is an internationally board -certified lactation consultant on staff seven days a week at the Birthing Center and new moms can get the support they need to be successful at breastfeeding, Alfaro said.

The tour includes a stop outside the Washington Special Care Nursery for babies who need extra care after the delivery. The nursery is affiliated with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and is staffed by neonatal nurses and UCSF neonatologists.

Expectant moms also see where the operating rooms are in case they are not able to give birth and instead need to have a cesarean section.

“The tour can help expectant moms feel more comfortable,” Alfaro said. “You can take comfort in knowing the highly skilled and caring staff is here to help you have a positive birthing experience.”

To schedule a tour of the Washington Hospital Birthing Center or for more information about the Birthing Center and other services for pregnant women and new moms, call (510) 818-5040 or visit