Friday, August 20, 2010

A BYOB Hospital

Or everything you (n)ever wanted to know about having a baby in Australia.


Things I Loved:

-The private hospital where I delivered was lovely. All private rooms, carpet on the floors, flat screen TV, comfy chairs, mini-fridge- almost more like a hotel room than a hospital room.

-Morning and afternoon tea brought around by a lady with a little trolley. Yes, I'd love some biscuits, thank you!

-Self serve kitchen with help yourself snacks and drinks for mums and partners.

-Decent cafe in the lobby with toasted sandwiches and fresh baked goods.

-Variety of classes offered to mums during their stay. Bathing, settling, breastfeeding, physio, etc. I'm sure these would be really helpful for first timers.

-My OB/GYN (although they never use that term here) was outstanding, and most of the midwives who cared for me afterward were great too.

-In the operating room ("theatre") they handed me the baby right after he was born. No one wiped him off or wrapped him up. I got to hold him immediately. It was awesome- and it made me feel much more involved than I had with my previous c-sections.



Things I found Annoying or Just Plain Strange:

-Hospital food is still hospital food. The only thing I found edible during my 5 night stay was the Rice Bubbles (Rice Krispies) I ordered for breakfast each day.

-It's BYOB- Bathe Your Own Baby. Seriously, no one does this for you. And since we are super lazy parents, our kid only had one bath while in the hospital.


-They don't provide Kleenex, bulb syringes for sucking gunk out of baby's nose or those nifty peri-cleanse squirt bottles I always got at the American hospital. In fact, when I asked about the nasal aspirator, the midwife looked at me like I was crazy and said, "We stopped using those a long time ago." Huh? Aussie babies don't get gunky noses? Go figure.

-No crushed ice! This should not come as a surprise to me as ice is often hard to find in Australia. But I figured they would have it in the hospital. Chewing on ice chips was standard post-op procedure in the U.S.

-Parking. Yes, the only parking is in a multi-story carpark, complete with huge pillars and low headroom. The lot was so over crowded that it was literally full when we arrived to check in for our scheduled c-section. Fortunately, a nice hospital employee allowed us to leave our car in the drop off zone- seeing as we were about to have a baby and all. On subsequent visits, my sweetie had to circle the lot searching for a spot. And, of course, we had to pay for parking.

-The "clothing" provided for the babies consisted of little tank tops ("singlets") and miniature hospital gowns that tied in the back. These looked completely uncomfortable to me- so we quickly switched to our own clothing from home. (The midwives all loved my baby nightgowns- apparently these aren't readily available in Australia). They also don't put hats on the newborns here- apparently to allow them to regulate their body temperature better.

-Limited access to a pediatrician. There was no pediatrician in the delivery room, and in fact, no one came to see the baby until he was 30+ hours old. Very different from the standard care in the U.S. When we finally saw the pediatrician, she basically told me that since this was my 3rd baby she wouldn't need to see us again. She actually said, "I don't believe in well baby checks." Um, OK, I guess.

-Nursing care was much more "hands-off" than in a U.S. hospital. One of the midwives actually told me that it was just too difficult for her to keep track of when I was due for my pain medication, and it would be up to me to call when I needed something. They seemed to be constantly writing things down on scraps of paper and sticking them in their pockets, unlike at the US hospital where the nurses logged everything on a computer and showed up at my bedside promptly every 4 hours with pain medication.

-Finally, leaving the hospital was a different experience here in Australia. In the U.S., babies leave the hospital in mom's arms, and a hospital volunteer pushes them out in a wheelchair. They also provided a trolley for us to load up all our flowers, gifts, and bags for easy transport to the car. All I had to think about was holding my little bundle of joy. But here, we were on our own. And, of course, it was pouring rain. Getting to the car with the baby and all our stuff was a bit stressful. Of course, we made it, but I found myself longing for that wheelchair service we took for granted back in America.


Overall, having a baby here was a good experience. And now that we're home with our amazing newborn boy, all the little annoyances seem so insignificant. Having a baby here was like most things in Australia- familiar enough to make you feel somewhat comfortable, but just different enough to keep things interesting.

3 comments:

Cristina Bras said...

I just LOVE that picture of Jack on the top of the post. He's SO beautiful!

Margo said...

No ice? Crazy! I suppose I won't have any children while here as my cranberry juice and crushed ice I remember fondly.

Kristi said...

thanks for sharing this, i was so curious. enjoy that sweet little one.

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