Skipping past the labour (I had lots of nitro gas, that stuff is awesome).
I stayed 3 nights in the postnatal ward after giving birth at The Canberra Hospital. The babies sleep next to you in a crib for the entire visit (yes, no breaks from them unless you have a nice mum or partner to take them for a while). As a public patient you share a room unless you have a C-Section, multiple birth or complications and then the patient gets a single. I thought you only shared if all the other rooms were full. I shared a room, but could see other rooms were empty. Maybe they didn’t have the staff for them? The rooms are small with only a few guest chairs per patient, so try to only have two or three visitors at a time.
The lady next to me had the loudest ring tones on her phone and they really started to grate after a while – and wake the baby at night time so if you are going in, please put your phone on silent/vibrate or at least turn it down. She was okay though, we both kept our visitor numbers down and she was a second time mum so slept well and left hospital soon after delivery.
The rooms are not pretty at all and the decor is from the 80s, but they are well cleaned. A cleaner comes in every day, as well as people who empty the garbage and the dirty linen bins. The tea lady comes around two or three times and then there’s breakfast, lunch and dinner delivered. The doctor also does her rounds once a day, there’s a lady who offers to take baby photos (very expensive), the nurse who checks the babies hearing, midwives checking on patients and more. So there is usually someone popping in the room every half hour. The hospital is not a place for modesty – it must be a testing ground for building your confidence for breast feeding in public.
If you need a clean sheet, towel, baby gown or any linen it’s quickest, and it’s expected, you go get items yourself. The linen press is in the central area. There are ice-packs, spare nappies and a tea room in the central area too. Vases for any flowers you may get are down the hall and a midwife can show you where the different locations of everything are.
The food is edible. It’s a continental breakfast which was nice, toast is cold, but the tea is hot. The lunches and dinners are worse than aeroplane food, think instant mash and a ‘garden salad’ of one piece of iceburg, two wedges of tomato and three slices of cucumber. Dessert is whipped cream with a slight brown flavour mixed through it (butterscotch mousse apparently). I asked my partner to bring in my own snacks to keep me nourished. I can’t complain too much about the food as I did scoff it all down – I found birth made me hungrier than I expected to be.
The midwives are called via a buzzer next to your bed. If you really need them, in an emergency situation for example, buzz your buzzer a lot as, if you give them just one buzz, it takes about 15 minutes to get one, but they are mostly nice and bring Panadol, answer stupid questions, check your stitches etc. One thing is they do ask you to do is buzz them when you feed the baby and then they come and advise you on your technique. Each one tells you something slightly different; I suggest studying the breast feeding films on the little TV above your bed instead. The films are free (you have to pay for regular TV). Check out the Swedish breast feeding film especially, it’s very funny viewing and it’ll cheer you up after another sleepless night of worrying over bubs.
Also the midwives suggest putting the baby in bed with you to sleep. What the hell? I thought with SIDS that was bad? Then they suggest to me to take baby in bed with me to ssttle her? Ah well, you don’t sleep if the baby is in bed with you or in the crib anyway if you’re a first time mum.
Overall the experience was not a bad one for me. It’s a tiring place at a tiring time in life. The doctors are rare as hens teeth, but the midwives are plentyful. You are expected to look after yourself a lot of the time, which surprised me, but the whole lot is free as a public patient so I am grateful we have this service in Australia.
It would be interesting to read a review from a mum who went through delivery in Canberra as a private patient too if anyone out there has had the experience.
PS. Parking is horrible outside maternity wards (building 11) at TCH. Have a parking ‘plan of attack’ organised before your labour.