During Your Hospital Stay

Your Arrival at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center

Whether or not this is your first baby, all expectant moms are waiting for just the right time to come to the hospital. For some, the time will be easy to determine, while for others, there may be uncertainty. Your obstetrician or midwife will give you guidelines for your arrival at the hospital.

Where Do I Go When I'm in Labor?

Please enter our campus at Potomac Center Boulevard and use the Main Entrance. You may choose
to valet park your car (available Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m.) or park in any of the visitor’s lots.

If you arrive after 9 p.m. or if you are in pain or experiencing ANY kind of medical emergency, please use the Emergency Department entrance.

It’s Time! What Do You Bring?

When you arrive at the hospital, you’ll only need a few simple items for labor and delivery:

  • Current insurance card/information.
  • Photo identification (driver's license, passport, etc.)
  • Birth plan, if desired.
  • Birthing ball, if desired.
  • Cord blood kit, if desired.
  • Other labor support aids (music, focal point aids, etc.), if desired.

For your delivery, we provide everything else you need.

For your hospital stay, you need to bring only the basics. We recommend leaving these things in your car until you are transferred to postpartum to keep your delivery room clear and allow you to more easily keep track of your belongings. Your spouse, partner, family member or friend can get these items for you when you are ready for them.

  • Car seat. The seat or base (depending on style) should already be installed in the family car for the baby's first trip home.
  • Two outfits for your baby – one for pictures and going home; one as a back-up outfit!
  • Loungewear or pajamas.
  • Undergarments.
  • Socks or slippers.
  • A comfortable support bra or a nursing bra.
  • Clothing to wear home.
  • Cell phone and charger.
  • Camera and charger.
  • List of family members and friends to call or text.
  • Personal hygiene items (toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, lip balm, etc.), as desired. Some of these basic items are provided for you.
  • Blanket or car seat cover for baby if it is cold outside.
  • Clothes for your support person.
  • Breast pumps are available at the hospital if you do not have your personal pump.

We will provide sanitary supplies for you and diapers and wipes for your baby to last throughout your stay. We do not provide cloth diapers. Meals are provided for the patient during her stay; however, many people like to bring extra items such as favorite snacks, music, and other items that aid relaxation. A small cooler can be brought in for storage of personal food items as there is nowhere to refrigerate those items on the unit.


We tend to encourage rooming-in, because this time immediately after birth is a critical time for mother/baby bonding. However, we also offer respite nursery care. If you need a break or extra rest, the maternity nurses will gladly watch over your baby in the nursery until it is time for feeding. Once you are ready to room-in again, we will bring your baby right back to you.

Be sure to review the folder of information you receive in the room. There is a Mommy sleeping/Baby sleeping door hanger for you to use. While physician rounds, vital checks and medication administration
my need to happen at specific times, some visits by hospital staff can wait. By using this door hanger, our staff will know to come back later, as able, or to be quiet when entering the room.


Many mothers at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center breastfeed their babies. Certified Lactation Consultants are available to new mothers every day from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Our Lactation Consultants will also make a follow up call to you at home to offer support and assist you and your baby with successful breastfeeding. If you have questions or need assistance, call our Lactation Consultant line at 703-523-0684.

Infant Security

Just as we care about your infant’s safety in the car and at home, your baby’s security at our hospital is a top priority to all of us at Sentara. All Sentara hospitals maintain a strict policy concerning the transport of infants. Babies are always transported around the hospital in their cribs. Never let anyone carry your baby away in his or her arms. The exception to this is immediately after birth for newborn assessment.

You should also check the identification on any nurse who comes to take your baby for tests or to watch your baby while you rest. At the minimum, the nurse should be wearing a hospital ID badge with a visible name and photo.

If you do not see proper identification, do not hesitate to request it before you let anyone take your baby. Immediately after your baby is born, a nurse will place two bracelets with the same identification numbers on your baby. Mom will receive a wrist bracelet bearing the same number, and most of our hospitals have a fourth bracelet available that the baby's father can wear. This bracelet system helps us make sure your baby stays in the right hands. We also use a state-of-the art infant security system to protect your baby. A security device will be placed around your baby’s ankle. This device is connected to an alarm system that will sound if your baby is removed from the postpartum area.


We recognize that having a baby is a very important event in your life, and we want you to be able to share your joy with family and friends. We strongly encourage a support person to remain with the mother at all times to provide comfort and assistance. A recliner chair/sofa is available in every room for your support person. Ask your nurse for assistance if needed. Keep in mind that your stay with us is relatively short, and you will want time to rest and recover from the birth experience. You will also need time to bond with your new baby and spend time learning to feed and care for your infant. If you have older children at home, your stay in the hospital offers you a chance to get to know your newest baby and rest before going home. You may wish to ask that only your closest family and friends visit you in the hospital, and that co-workers and other visitors wait until you are home to visit.

Guidelines for Visitors

  1. For their own safety, children under 12 years of age must be accompanied by a supervising adult, other than the patient, at all  times and may not stay overnight.
  2. Only one meal is provided for a visitor during your hospital stay. For all other meals, visitors can purchase meals in the Garden Café or the Outtakes coffee kiosk.
  3. Overnight visitors must wear pajamas (or equivalent) during sleeping hours and must be dressed during the daytime hours - including shirt, pants and shoes. Night nurses will be making rounds in the rooms during the night.
  4. Overnight visitors should remain in the room from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. to protect other patient’s privacy.


With so much else to think about after baby's birth, you can rest assured about one keepsake. Color photographs taken of your newborn are available from a company authorized by the hospital. Personal photography (still, digital, and video) is allowed before delivery and when the mother and baby are both stable after delivery. Audio and visual recording shall not be allowed during procedures, such as vaginal or cesarean delivery or administration of anesthesia. Photography that includes any clinical or hospital staff is allowed with the permission of the persons being photographed.

Birth Registration

Before you leave the hospital, our staff will visit you concerning your baby’s birth registration. After you fill out and sign the forms, the hospital will file the official record of your child’s birth with the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics. Part of this paperwork can be used to automatically apply for your newborn’s Social Security number.

Our staff will also provide information about obtaining an official copy of the baby’s birth certificate.


Your obstetrician, the pediatrician and the nurses will review special discharge instructions with you before you leave the hospital. You will also be given a “Mom and Baby Basics” booklet. It is very important for you and your family to pay close attention to this information, to help make your baby’s homecoming as smooth as possible. For a safe first ride, please remember to have your baby’s car seat already installed at the time of discharge. You must have a written order by your physician to be discharged from the hospital. Please make arrangements ahead of time for your transportation home.

Help at Any Time

Patient Representatives are available at each hospital. They are responsible for ensuring you are satisfied with the services you receive. They are your advocates for protecting your rights as a patient and are available to assist you with any concerns you may have during your stay. Our Patient Advocates would like to make your stay a positive experience. If there is something that would enhance your stay, please make our Patient Advocacy team aware. While you are in the hospital, you may contact a Patient Advocate by dialing “0” for the hospital operator.

Sentara in the Community