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What to Expect

One baby. A thousand questions. A million things to do.

As you prepare for the birth of your baby (or babies!), you'll be making many decisions. At Mercy Birthplace, we know your baby is unique, and we believe your birth experience should be, too. Our goal is to help you make the birth of your child the most rewarding, heartwarming event possible.

To help ensure that, Mercy has many services available for you. If you have questions at any stage, please feel free to call us at (319) 363-BABY. We look forward to taking care of you and your family!

First Trimester

The following checklist will serve as a reminder of what you should do during your first trimester.

  • Choose a doctor for your baby and where to deliver.
  • Ask for the Mercy packet during your first visit to your doctor, usually around 12 weeks. This free book and information about the Birthplace will help you navigate pregnancy.
  • Tour Mercy's Birthplace. Michelle Altmaier will be your personal guide to the Birthplace. We are proud of this wonderful facility and the single-room birthing care approach. Mom will labor, deliver and stay in a fully equipped suite throughout her experience. As proud as we are of our facilities, we're even prouder of our people. You'll find they make an extra effort to make you feel comfortable and answer questions during your tour.
  • Make sure you're eating well for you and your baby. If you have questions, call the dietitians located in the Mercy Women's Center at (319) 221-8610.

Second Trimester

Use the following checklist to ensure you have taken care of everything necessary during your second trimester.

  • Stay on schedule with your prenatal check-ups.
  • Get sufficient exercise.
  • Shop for comfortable maternity clothes and shoes, plus baby furnishings and clothing.
  • Childproof your home. Lock up poisonous chemicals where children can't get to them. Cover electrical outlets. 

Third Trimester

The following checklist provides a guide to making the most of Mercy's services for you and your family:

  • Take Birthplace classes. Classes are offered for parents, so be sure to check them out and get an early start on planning.
  • Attend a Prenatal Breastfeeding Class and learn to prepare for this experience. The class is taught by the same lactation consultants that will be available to you during your stay at the Birthplace.
  • Attend Heartsaver Baby Class. For moms, dads and caregivers. Learn infant CPR and rescue breathing.  A good thing to do before your baby arrives and controls your schedule! 
  • Pre-Register Online. This step will ensure that you can bypass this routine procedure during labor and delivery. Upon arrival at the Birthplace for the main event, Mom's name will be all we need.
  • Review Personal Insurance Coverage and Requirements. There are almost as many different insurance plans as there are patients. It is important for you to understand what is covered by your insurance plan. Check with your company to determine length of stay following delivery, notification of new insured (YOUR BABY!) and notification of any special circumstances (Cesarean birth or special care in the NICU).
  • Purchase an Infant Safety Seat. By state law, all infants must be restrained in an approved infant safety seat while in a vehicle. The Mercy Birthplace will help your family comply with this law by providing a staff person to accompany Mom and the new addition to your car at discharge.
  • Prepare for Baby's Siblings. If this is not your first child, the siblings are surely excited. This is the time to discuss room arrangements and where siblings will wait for news of their new brother or sister. Parents need to find out what their older children are feeling and what questions they have. A great place to begin these discussions is the Sibling Class.


It's Time!

Mom feels an ache, she feels a pain – is it time yet? Despite your preparation, "Should we go now?" will still be your first question. The knowledge gained from classes and books will be more important than ever. Your trip will be filled with anticipation and excitement. How will you know? Where will you go? Who can you ask? Read on to learn more about the event of a lifetime.

Arrival Time

Drive into the parking ramp on 8th Street SE, off 8th Avenue. Park at the south end of Level 3. The entrance is clearly marked "BIRTHPLACE."  Proceed to the nurse's station. All entrances, except to the Emergency Room, are locked after visiting hours. If you arrive during this time, pick up the phone outside the Birthplace entrance and a nurse will let you in.

If you feel you are in an emergency situation or that birth is imminent (you have a strong urge to push) at any time of the day or night, have the driver of the vehicle pull directly to the Emergency Room. Help is just inside and to the right.

If you are concerned about symptoms you are experiencing or have any questions, please call your doctor's office or the Birthplace at (319) 398-6350. These resources will help you determine if your condition should be monitored at the Birthplace.


When it's time, the Birthplace offers a variety of state-of-the-art medical services to ensure a safe delivery.

Of course, all babies are special, but some need more care than others. That's the role of our Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). With its highly trained and expert staff, the NICU delivers and cares for babies born as early as 30 weeks.


After delivery

After all the excitement, your nurse will take a few minutes to gather vital information on Baby's condition. A NICU nurse will be there when your baby is born to help transition your baby to the outside world. This first physical exam usually takes place at Mom's bedside and will include weight and measurement, as well as a general check of Baby's breathing, heart rate, color and reflexes. Then your baby will be returned to you to allow bonding between you.

Following delivery is an important time of rest and recuperation for you ... and the chance to learn about caring for a new baby. Rooming-in allows your baby to be with you throughout your stay. You'll have the opportunity to begin your caretaking role immediately.

Your nurse is also your baby's nurse - there to teach or help with diapering, feeding, burping, bathing and dressing. You will start to learn your baby's routine before you go home. You also can take advantage of the nursery to get some time to yourself. Your nurse will keep you up-to-date on your baby's activities in the nursery and will return the baby to your room when needed.

Going Home and Beyond

You want your baby to have the safest start possible. The Mercy Birthplace Home Visit Program is a vital link between hospital and home. You'll have the opportunity to ask questions about yourself and your baby in the convenience of your home. We'll come to you! 

Our Birthplace home-visit nurses specialize in maternal and newborn care and have received training in home visitation. All of our nurses are either board-certified lactation consultants or certified breastfeeding educators.  Their expertise and experience will provide you with the same quality care you experienced in the Birthplace. In fact, your home-visit nurse may have cared for you in the Birthplace.


One of our home-visit nurses will meet with you before discharge to schedule your visit. The visit will occur approximately 48 to 72 hours after you return home. A home visit is provided to all Mercy moms at no charge.

Mom's Check Up

The visit with Mom may include information on breast care, episiotomy or incision care, emotional and hormonal changes (postpartum blues), and breast or bottle feeding.

Baby's Check Up

Your baby will be examined and weighed. Any physician-ordered blood work can be completed without a return to the hospital. In addition, parents will receive information on cord and circumcision care, sleep and wake cycles, infant crying, fatigue and new family roles.


All test results will be reported to the baby's doctor for any necessary follow up.

Making the Most of It

New parents very often are exhausted and overwhelmed with the new addition to the household. This makes it difficult for you to concentrate on all the questions you have encountered since your trip home. The home-visit nurses recommend that you begin a list of questions as soon as you arrive home. Add to this list as you develop more questions and you will have an easy reference for discussion with your nurse. Dads are welcomed and encouraged to participate in the home visit. They are a big part of baby's adjustment to your home and we want to include them in all discussions concerning their baby's care.

More Information

Please call the Birthplace Home Visit Program at (319) 398-6501 or the Birthplace at (319) 398-6332 for more information.

Michelle Altmaier

 Hi, I'm Michelle!

Your personal guide to Mercy’s Birthplace during the most exciting time of your life.

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