Your stay at the Women’s
Information for women and the parents of babies who are patients at the Royal Women’s Hospital.
We want to make sure you are safe and well cared for during your time with us. If you have any questions or concerns you should ask your nurse or midwife for help. For further information about your care at the Women’s, or information about your condition see other pages on this website.
You can also download the information on this page as a PDF.
Getting to the Women's
The Women’s is at the corner of Grattan Street and Flemington Road in Parkville (Melway Map 2B A7) - see our Transport and parking page.
Where to find services and facilities - see our Find your way page.
There are two discharge times each day:
- Morning discharge: 9.30am
- Maternity afternoon discharge: from 3.30pm
Visitors are welcome at the Women’s.
For the comfort, health and safety of our patients, we ask visitors to respect our visiting hours.
If your family, friends or carers feel ill, have an infection or have recently been unwell, ask them not to visit until they have fully recovered.
- Newborn Intensive Care Unit
Visiting hours (general): 2pm to 8.00pm. Visiting hours for parents are unrestricted.
We ask that no more than three people (including the baby’s parents) are at a baby’s bedside at any one time. Family and friends (including children) may visit babies in intensive or special care according to the wishes of the parents.
Written permission from the parents is required for family members or friends to visit in the absence of parents.
- Maternity Wards
Visiting hours (general): 2pm to 8.00pm.
Visiting hours for partners: 8.00am to 8.30pm.
- Gynaecology & Women’s Health Wards
Visiting hours (general): 2pm to 8.00pm.
Visiting hours for partners: 8.00am to 8.30pm. Alternative visiting hours may be negotiated with the nurse-in-charge in special circumstances.
If your first language is not English and you would like help talking with the health professionals who are caring for you, the Women’s has a team of professional interpreters to assist you.
You can request an interpreter, including an Auslan interpreter, when you are arranging your stay on the ward.
You can also ask your midwife or nurse if you would like an interpreter.
- The number for patient enquiries is (03) 8345 3030.
- Visitors’ toilets are located in the lift foyers on each floor or near the main reception desk.
Patient meals are served at the following approximate times:
Breakfast – 8.00am
Lunch – 12.30pm
Dinner – 6.30pm
Please inform nursing and meal staff if you have any allergies or specific dietary requirements.
We advise that a minimum amount of money be kept with you and that your valuables be sent home. If this is not possible, please keep any valuable items with you at all times or locked securely in the safe in your room.
Please let the nurse or midwife know if you have brought any electrical equipment with you that you would like to use during your stay with us.
You’re welcome to film or record in the hospital when it is safe and appropriate to do so. However, there are times when taking photographs, filming or recording can affect your care, breach the privacy of other patients or breach the privacy of Women’s staff members.
You don’t need permission to photograph, film or record yourself or a loved one while in the hospital as long as you don’t photograph, film or record a member of staff or any other patient or visitor. This includes capturing the voice or image of anyone nearby.
You can photograph, film or record clinical care – such as the birth of a baby – if you have permission of all staff members involved in the clinical care.
You must stop photographing, filming or recording if requested by clinical staff at any time.
Please do not post online or on any social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.) any material featuring Women’s staff without their permission.
Ask a staff member if you are uncertain when it is appropriate to take a photo, film or record.
Your bedside console has a number of functions. It allows you to call the nurse or midwife, control the TV and has a speaker for the TV and radio. Your nurse or midwife will explain how to use it and other call devices located throughout your room.
Please be considerate of fellow patients when you are watching or listening to the TV or radio.
You have free access to the Women’s Educational Channel (41) on your TV; a fee is charged for access to all other channels.
On Channel 42 is information about the television system and channels as well as information about the hospital.
To gain access to all TV channels, collect a form from your ward’s main reception desk and present it with the fee payable at the Cashiers Office (Ground floor) between 7.00am and 4.30pm or after hours at Admissions in Emergency (Ground floor).
To operate the TV:
Turn the TV on using the blue button on your remote control.
- Use the up and down arrows (green and red) to change the channel.
- Use the left and right arrows (grey) to adjust the volume.
- Care of the mother and baby programs, and other health related shows, are free and available on the Education Channel – Channel 41.
You can receive outside calls directly to your bedside phone. Callers can ring patient enquiries on (03) 8345 3030, let the operator know they would like to speak to a patient and give your name. The operator will then transfer the call to you.
To make outside calls on your bedside phone you will need a phone card. These can be bought at the Cashiers Office (Ground floor) or at Admissions in Emergency (Lower Ground floor) after hours.
Payphones are also available in the Ground floor foyer and on the Lower Ground floor, and on levels 2, 3, 4 and 5.
You are able to use your mobile phone while you are in the hospital, although please maintain a distance of one metre from any medical equipment. Please be considerate of others when using your mobile phone or tablet.
Free phone charging facilities are available in the Women’s Welcome Centre on the Ground floor.
The Women’s is committed to ensuring your safety. To assist with this, we need to know who you are. To make sure you or your baby are safe and receiving the correct treatment, procedures/tests and medications, we will check your identity many times.
On each occasion, we will check you or your baby’s:
- full name
- date of birth.
Then we will check this against your:
- health record
- Unit Record (UR) number, which is your own unique identifying number within the Women’s
- written consent form (if applicable)
- patient identification bands (wrist bands) if you are wearing them
- prescription or medication chart.
What you can do
- Ensure staff check you or your baby’s identity and any allergies you may have before you or your baby are given any medicines.
- Let us know if any of you or your baby’s personal details on the consent form are incorrect or have changed.
- Make sure you know who you or your baby’s nurse/midwife is for each shift. All staff should be wearing an identification badge. If you are not sure who someone is, please ask.
- Ask to see and read your consent form before your treatment/procedure.
Make sure the surgery, procedure or treatment you or your baby are having is explained to you, in a way that you can understand and is what your agreed to. If there is a mistake, please point this out and ask for a new consent form to be completed and signed. If you would like an interpreter, please ask for one.
- If something does not look right, or you hear something that is wrong, please let us know immediately.
During your stay at the Women’s a number of different staff including doctors, midwives, nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals are likely to be involved in your care. All these staff have access to your health information. This is called clinical handover.
This sharing is required so that:
- if there is an emergency your health information can be quickly accessed
- staff can give you appropriate treatment.
You are an important part of this process and you will be involved in the handover of your care at your bedside. Family and partners are welcome to participate as well, but if you would prefer them not to be present, please let staff know on your arrival or before handover. If you would prefer not to have your care discussed at the bedside, please let the staff know.
If anything discussed is incorrect or you don’t understand, please let us know and ask us to explain.
If information or instructions are unclear or confusing you can ask:
- for the information to be written down for you
- to have the information repeated when you have a family member or carer present and they can also ask questions
- for an interpreter if English is your second language.
You have the right to:
- access your medical record
- know what information is in your medical record.
Information about your stay and treatment is also provided to your local doctor to continue your healthcare.
Medicines are an important part of your treatment. When you’re admitted to hospital we will ask you what medicines you take. Knowing about your medicines will help us make the right decisions about your health. It can also help us to prevent mistakes.
Over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and natural therapies are just as important to mention as prescription medicines. Please tell us what you take and what works for you – your experience is important.
Tell us if you are using:
- tablets from a pharmacist or supermarket
- liquid medicine like cough syrup
- natural therapies like herbs and tinctures
- medicated creams/patches
- eye drops
- any other drugs or substances.
Some things you can do to help manage your medicines:
- Bring all of your medicines to hospital with you.
- Keep an up-to-date list of your medicines and show it to staff when you’re admitted.
- Ask for an updated list of your medicines before you go home. This list will be helpful for your local doctor and pharmacist.
- Tell us if you’ve had allergies or bad reactions to medicines in the past.
- While you’re in hospital, don’t be afraid to ask what medicines you’re receiving and why.
Your hospital pharmacist will review your medicine chart on a regular basis and work with your doctors to ensure medicines prescribed are appropriate and safe to use. If you are discharged and require medicines, you will receive information about that medicine.
Pharmacy hours: Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm.
Invoices for discharge medicines can be paid at the Cashiers Office, Ground floor.
Please show staff your current Medicare card, plus any other concession cards, e.g. pension or health care card, DVA card, Safety Net entitlement card from your local pharmacy.
Any patient admitted to hospital may have a risk of getting an infection, either through invasive procedures or because of their illness. Hospital staff employ many strategies to reduce this risk. Patients and visitors also have a role in preventing infection in hospitals. The best way to prevent infection is to perform ‘hand hygiene’. You can clean your hands with soap and water if they are dirty or use an alcohol-based hand rub on visibly clean hands.
Clean your hands:
- after going to the toilet
- before touching food or eating
- after sneezing, coughing or disposing of tissues
- before touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- before and after touching a dressing.
Please ask your visitors or carers:
- not to visit if they feel unwell or have a cold, have a rash or have been vomiting or had diarrhoea
- to use the alcohol-based hand rub when they first come in and when they leave
- to follow any special precautions. Sometimes visitors may be asked to wear a mask or gown. This may be a precaution for them or for you
- not to touch your dressings, drips or other equipment around your bed.
Our staff are happy to be asked ‘Have you cleaned your hands?’
A blood transfusion is the transfer of blood from one person to another. In rare cases you may need a transfusion while you’re in hospital because of your condition or because of the treatment you are receiving.
Before you consent to a blood transfusion, ask why you need it and what are the benefits and risks. If you don’t understand why a blood transfusion is necessary, don’t be afraid to ask questions or for more information.
Australia’s blood supply is extremely safe. All donated blood is tested for blood-borne diseases like HIV, hepatitis and syphilis. The risk of contracting any type of infection from a blood transfusion is very low.
Most people who receive a blood transfusion do not experience any side effects and any reaction is usually mild. The most common reactions to a blood transfusion are:
Very rarely, severe reactions can be life-threatening. Remember to tell your doctor if you have ever had a reaction to a blood transfusion.
So that your blood transfusion can be given as safely as possible there are strict procedures staff must follow.
- Every time you have blood taken for matching you will be asked for your first name, family name and date of birth.
- Your armband will also be checked.
- Before your transfusion, staff will check your identity again, as well as the unit of blood you will be given.
If you feel that you are becoming unwell or you notice your baby is getting sick, tell a member of staff immediately or ring the nurse/midwife call bell.
If there is no response and you are still feeling unwell or concerned about you or your baby’s health, phone 2999 on your bedside phone.
A senior staff member will respond and assess you.
If you are a visitor and you notice a patient’s health is getting worse – please tell a member of staff.
Urgently tell the nurse, midwife or doctor if your baby:
- stops breathing or turns blue
- has a fit/convulsion/seizure
- cannot be woken
- is not taking any notice of loud noises, a bright light shone in their eyes or a gentle pinch on the arm.
Inform the nurse, midwife or doctor if your baby:
- In the first 24 hours of life:
- has not fed for more than 6 hours
- has not had a wet and/or dirty nappy
- has yellow-looking skin
- Arm, leg and body movements get very fast and your baby appears twitchy or jerky
- Body, head, neck, arms and legs appear floppy
- Breathing is really fast and they make grunting noises
- Cry is unusual (e.g. weak, high-pitched, moaning or painful cry)
- Poo (stool/faeces) has any blood in it
- Skin seems very pale or is turning yellow
- Tummy (stomach) or the bottom of their chest draws in with each breath
- Vomiting a lot
- Vomit is not clear or not milk or lemon-coloured.
or your instinct tells you that something is wrong.
Severe pain after surgery or the birth of a child was once something people thought they had to put up with. With the availability of new methods of pain relief, it is recognised that good pain control can help you:
- be more comfortable while you heal
- recover more quickly and perhaps leave hospital sooner.
It is very important to us that your pain is well controlled.
Who is involved?
A range of health care professionals may work with you to control your pain. They include nurses, midwives, doctors, pharmacists and physiotherapists.
The Women’s also has an Acute Pain Service (APS) staffed by a team of nurses, midwives and anaesthetists with specialised knowledge and experience in the treatment of acute pain.
You are also important in the management of your pain. Only you know what you are feeling and so you are the best person to decide if you need more pain relieving medicines.
Letting your nurse, midwife or doctor know when you have pain will allow them to work out what is causing your pain and choose the best form of pain relief.
How painful is it?
There are several methods that can be used for rating or describing your pain:
- scoring your pain between 1 and 10. No pain is scored as 0 and the worst pain you could ever imagine is 10
- rating your pain as either no pain, mild pain, moderate pain, severe pain
- describing the type of pain you have. Some words for pain include sharp; hot; stinging; cramping; dull; burning; tingly; numb; shooting; stabbing; aching; throbbing.
Methods of pain relief
There are a variety of ways you may be given pain relief:
- Tablets or capsules are the most common way of giving pain medicine and should be effective within 15 to 45 minutes after swallowing.
- Injections can be used to give strong pain medicines, and are sometimes used during labour and in special instances.
- Patient controlled analgesia (PCA) allows you to have control over your own pain relief. When you feel uncomfortable you press a button that is attached to a PCA pump. The pump injects a small dose of the medicine into an intravenous (IV) cannula inserted in your vein. You should press the PCA button when your pain starts to become uncomfortable; do not wait for the pain to become severe.
- Epidural analgesia and patient controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) are pain medicines given through a small tube placed in your back. They are often a mixture of local anaesthetic and an opioid. Epidural analgesia can be used to treat pain following surgery and for pain relief during labour. The function of a PCEA is similar to that of PCA.
It’s very important that you tell the nurse/ midwife or doctor if you have taken your pain medicine and the pain does not go away. At different times during the day you may require more pain medicine to provide adequate pain relief; for example, when performing your physiotherapy exercises or showering. If you have had all the pain medicines that have been prescribed and you are still feeling sore, then you should ask to be seen by your doctor. If you have been seen by your doctor and you are still in pain, you can ask to be seen by someone from the Acute Pain Service (APS).
To help with your recovery after surgery or giving birth, staff will encourage you to move regularly and as soon as possible.
In hospital, if you need help moving, we will use a program called Smart Move to ensure staff are safe and avoid risk of injury. There may be specialist equipment that is used to assist you with your movement. The staff will explain the workings of any equipment that is required to assist you to move.
During your stay in hospital, a nurse or midwife will regularly assess your ability to sit in bed, stand and walk. Sometimes a physiotherapist will complete the assessment. The assessment will be included in your clinical notes.
As a patient you have a higher risk of falls. Falling is more likely when you:
- are unwell
- have low blood pressure
- are taking certain medicines »» are pregnant
- have just given birth
- have had a general, epidural or spinal anaesthetic
- have had an operation
- have been in bed for awhile
- are in an unfamiliar place
- have poor eyesight.
There are a number of ways to avoid falls:
- Always wear supportive, flat, non-slip shoes or slippers (don’t walk in socks or stockings).
- Bring your eyeglasses, walking aids and appropriate footwear to the hospital and use them when walking.
- Get to know the room and area you are in.
- Let staff know if there are things on the floor in your way, or if a spill occurs.
- Make sure you can reach your call button easily.
- At night, turn your light on before getting out of bed.
- Take your time getting up from a chair or out of bed.
The following information is particularly for patients who have recently given birth, had an epidural or spinal anaesthetic, must spend long periods in bed, or have lost a lot of blood.
- Check with your nurse or midwife before getting out of bed.
- Ask staff to help you when you get out of bed.
- When you have a shower, use a shower chair to sit on.
- After an epidural or a spinal anaesthetic, wait until you have full leg sensation and strength before trying to stand or walk.
- Let staff know if you are feeling unsteady on your feet.
How to prevent your baby from falling:
- Put your baby to sleep on their back in their cot next to your bed.
- Keep a constant eye on your baby when they are on a surface such as a change table or bed.
- Put your baby in their cot if you are sleepy or you have taken strong medication for pain relief. If you fall asleep holding your baby they can fall from your arms.
Advice for family or visitors:
- If your relative or friend is confused, stay with them as much as possible.
- Let a staff member know when you leave.
A pressure injury, also known as a bed sore or ulcer, can form when you spend a long time sitting or lying in the same position. The risk of a pressure injury increases if you have to stay in bed or a chair, have limited sensation or circulation, or you’re not eating well. Having an epidural may also increase the risk of a pressure injury.
You can get pressure injuries anywhere on your body but you are more likely to get them in places where you are bonier and have very little padding, for example:
Early signs that you are getting a bed sore or pressure injury are:
- constant redness
- broken or blistered skin
- tingling and/or numbness.
If you notice any signs of pressure injury, tell your doctor, nurse or midwife immediately.
Even though getting moving is sometimes difficult, a few simple actions can save you a lot of pain:
- Move, move, move
- Whether you are lying in bed or sitting in a chair, keeping active and changing your position frequently is the best way of avoiding a pressure injury.
- If you are unable to move yourself, the staff will help you change your position regularly.
- Special equipment such as air mattresses, cushions and booties may be used to reduce the pressure in particular places.
- Look after your skin
- Keep your skin and bedding dry. Let staff know if your clothes or bedding are damp.
- Tell staff if you have any tenderness or soreness over a bony area or if you notice any reddened, blistered or broken skin.
- Avoid massaging your skin over bony parts of the body
- Use a mild soap and moisturise dry skin.
- Eat a healthy and nutritious diet.
If you are very unwell, and not able to communicate your preferences for care to others, who would you want to speak for you? What healthcare decisions would you want them to make?
Writing down your values and preferences in an advance care plan or directive, is a good way to let people know what is most important to you.
People can make two types of advance care directives:
An Instructional Directive is binding, which means that health professionals must follow it. It lists which medical treatments you consent to or refuse.
A Values Directive explains your healthcare wishes and values. It is not binding, but must be considered. For more information on Advanced Care Directives please ask our staff. If you already have an Advanced Care Directive, please inform staff and provide us with a copy.
Badjurr-Bulok Wilam (meaning ‘Home of many women’ in the Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri Peoples) provides a drop-in place for women who identify themselves as Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander and their families. Non-indigenous women with indigenous partners are also encouraged to access Badjurr-Bulok Wilam for support.
This may include support to access the hospital’s services, information, referral to services and practical assistance. Badjurr-Bulok Wilam provides a resting place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and families attending the Women’s, where women and families can sit, yarn and have a cuppa with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Hospital Liaison Officers (ATSIHLO).
Badjurr-Bulok Wilam is right next to the main entrance of the hospital (Ground level).
Pastoral Care and Spirituality Services (PCSS) at the Women’s is a free confidential service, offering emotional and spiritual support to all patients, their family and friends, and staff at the hospital. Representatives from various traditions may be available upon request. Please ask a pastoral care worker which representatives are available, as they do change from time to time.
The PCSS team can be contacted Monday to Friday 9.00am–5.00pm.
Seating areas: We offer a number of comfortable seating areas around the atrium and right next to the main entrance of the hospital (Ground floor).
Breastfeeding rooms: The Women’s is a baby-friendly hospital and women are encouraged to breastfeed wherever they feel comfortable. There are also breastfeeding rooms available for visitors and patients near the Pregnancy Clinics on Level 1.
Internal garden courtyard: We have a garden courtyard for patients and visitors, allowing for a break and some fresh air away from the wards and nurseries (Level 4).
Sacred Space: We offer a multi-faith Sacred Space for patients and families to use for reflection and prayer as well as the lighting of candles and incense. There are sacred texts as well as a prayer journal for recording thoughts. We hold an annual memorial service here each year, for families and staff who wish to come together (Ground floor).
Women’s Welcome Centre: Our Women’s Welcome Centre offers you access to a specialist library full of useful health information. It is a free and confidential service for patients and visitors, located just next to the main entrance of the hospital (Ground floor).
The Women’s Childcare Centre at Parkville offers occasional care to patients’ children.
The centre provides care for children aged 12 weeks to 7 years and operates Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm. It is located on the Ground Floor of the Women’s at Parkville.
Occasional care places are available for two hours and bookings are usually required. Longer care can sometimes be arranged by discussion with the childcare coordinator. A fee is charged for the service.
To arrange child care please call the Centre on (03) 8345 2098.
- ATM and Commonwealth Bank
- Australia Post
- Cafés: Zouki cafeteria and Isabella Café
- Clothes: Regina Boutique sells men’s, women’s and baby clothes and jewellery
- Convenience store: Newspapers, magazines, gifts, snack food and confectionery
- Florist: With Flowers
- Gifts: The Chocolate Box. Gifts are also sold occasionally at the Volunteer desk
Before you leave the hospital, make sure you have:
- any medicines you brought to hospital
- any medicines that the doctor has prescribed
- any X-rays or ultrasounds that you may have brought in
- a letter outlining your care while in hospital ("Discharge Summary")
- an appointment to return to the clinic for a check-up, (usually in six weeks unless the doctor wants to see you earlier). If an appointment is not made at the time of your discharge, it will be sent out to you in the mail.
- a medical certificate if you need one.
Some women will also be given a letter for their local doctor.
If you have had an operation
The time it takes to recover from a major operation is different for each person. We expect that it will take between six and eight weeks.
Be aware of signs of infection
The following symptoms may be a sign of infection:
- sudden hot flushes or sweating
- high temperatures above 38ºC
- sudden onset of pain that is not relieved by over-the-counter painkillers.
If you experience any of these symptoms, or there are any other aspects of your health you are worried about, please see your local doctor or come to the Emergency Department at the Women’s.
Relevant information about your medical condition will be forwarded to your GP or specialist and to community health workers and service providers involved in your care, unless you tell us that this should not happen.
If there is anything you feel you will need help with when you leave hospital, please discuss it with staff as soon as possible. For example:
- community services
- medication information and pharmacy advice
- follow-up appointments
- special instructions.
If you usually receive community services at home, please make sure health service staff know you receive this help.
If you are going home with a baby
If your baby seems sick or you are concerned something is wrong:
- Call the Maternal and Child Health Line on 13 22 29.
- Call 24-hour Nurse-on-Call on 1300 60 60 24
- See your local doctor (GP).
- Attend a hospital emergency department.
For urgent assistance, call 000.
Need more information?
The Women’s offers a range of health information on this website in English and other community languages. You can also ask your midwife or nurse if there is written information available that will help you to know about your condition or treatment.
The Women's Welcome Centre is on the Ground floor of the Women’s. You can browse the Centre’s library collection. Become a member of the library to borrow books and DVDs. There is also a range of brochures and fact sheets in a number of languages available free of charge. Drop in, telephone or email the Centre.
Be involved at the Women's
There are always opportunities to be involved – we’d love to hear from you.
Have Your Say
Have your say at the Women’s is an online platform. It’s an opportunity to provide your opinion and feedback on a range of projects and activities at the Women’s. Take a look at: haveyoursay.thewomens.org.au
Consumers are invited to become involved with working groups, focus groups, committees, and to provide feedback via online surveys.
Contact the Community Engagement Coordinator on (03) 8345 2045 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteers at the Women’s contribute to creating exceptional experiences for women and their families, offering their skills and energy where and when it is needed most. As a Women’s volunteer, you will complement our clinical and support services with your knowledge, enthusiasm, empathy and generosity. Contact the Volunteer Program Lead on (03) 8345 2078 or email Volunteers@thewomens.org.au.