Review of my stay at Postnatal Maternity Ward in Canberra Hospital

Feathergirl 7 March 2009 48

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.

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48 Responses to Review of my stay at Postnatal Maternity Ward in Canberra Hospital
jayskette jayskette 6:26 pm 27 Jul 11

The salad description sounds exactly like the ones in McDonalds, except I was stupid enough to pay $3.95 for it!

dusty dusty 9:35 pm 09 Mar 09

If you are keen to get on the fabulous Birth Centre Programme:
Dont just call and book in and forget about it, make sure that you attend the Information Tour Mondays at 3.30 and Wed at 11.30 I think, check when you’re booking on. It will only take about an hour but it gives you the opportunity to ask questions about the programme, and have them answered by one of the midwives that work there.
And if you attend, there is MUCH MUCH higher likelihood that you will eventually be taken on to the programme!!
And dont give up just because you dont get straight on, often new midwives are looking for pregnant women late in their pregnancies so there is ALWAYS a chance!

miz miz 6:50 pm 09 Mar 09

Bedsharing worked for us, too. It was the only way to get any sleep at all with my first child, and thereafter made compete sense with the next two. Made breastfeeding much, much easier, and my then-husband got way more sleep as the nights were a lot less disruptive.

Dear Feathergirl – well done on the little one!

Granny Granny 6:21 pm 09 Mar 09



MWF MWF 5:34 pm 09 Mar 09

I reckon whatever works for your family is best. Bed sharing worked for us as it meant I could continue working and breastfeeding exclusively. I can’t imagine trying to get through an entire day of work with broken sleep.

As for drugs/no drugs I have done it both ways. with number 3 it was too late for any drugs 🙁 and all up, it wasn’t so bad. Number 1 took 20 hours and I had lots of lovely drugs and an epidural. Number 2 I had one of those weeny epidurals where you can still move your legs and feel what is happening. Number 2 was drug free, but only took about 2 hours from go to whoa.

Maybe we should start a breast vs bottle post next 😉 That oughta get a response 😉

deezagood deezagood 4:10 pm 09 Mar 09

Congrats to you Feathergirl, your partner and your new little person! Tabitha is a lovely name. I think a lot of Rioters will appreciate this review – I think there should be more on this topic (especially handy for the influx of new people to Canberra each year – who will very much appreciate this type of information).

Granny Granny 2:17 pm 09 Mar 09

You know, with technology going the way it is, I reckon they could come up with a labour and birth simulator.

Fantastically useful for antenatal classes to educate prospective fathers, and even in sex education classes at school … “Do you really like this girl?”


rosebud rosebud 1:27 pm 09 Mar 09

astrojax said :

not according to the natives, apparently rosebud… ; )

For my birth plan I wrote in large, bold lettering: Give Epidural and other pain relief immediately! I went through the ‘warrior woman’ syndrome the first time round. What a load of drivel. I believe that if men could have babies, pain killers would be standard…possibly even mandatory. I mean, would you get root canal work done without decent pain relief? Well, childbirth is 10 times worse and 10 times longer. And then you are expected to get up and go about your business…for the next 20 years! End of line.

emd emd 1:19 pm 09 Mar 09

For those who are keen to support the Birth Centre, did you know there’s a Friends of the Birth Centre group in Canberra? They send out a monthly newsletter, and are doing their best to lobby for Birth Centre inclusion in the new Women’s & Children’s Hospital to be built at TCH.

If anyone wants to join as an Associate Member of Friends of the Birth Centre (free), email to join the newsletter mailing list. The first AGM is on Wednesday 25 March, and we’re keen to get more members involved in the committee. Or just come along as an Associate Member so you can vote.

astrojax astrojax 1:12 pm 09 Mar 09

not according to the natives, apparently rosebud… ; )

rosebud rosebud 12:30 pm 09 Mar 09

Babies need tough love to learn to sleep on their own. Parents (mums) need rest too and who can sleep with a baby in bed with you? It’s way to freaky.

Hells_Bells74 Hells_Bells74 10:57 am 09 Mar 09

Oh and congratulations, glad you’re both well and Tabitha is a very sweet name.

Hells_Bells74 Hells_Bells74 10:51 am 09 Mar 09

Hey Granny I think the only way a man will ever understand how it goes is, if they start having the babies in much the same way, haven’t we always said.

Then it would be luxury all round to rest with plenty of good home-style cooking I’m sure 😉

Oh well, lucky us gals are about to keep taking one (or multiple) for the team!

Granny Granny 11:08 pm 08 Mar 09

We used to joke that you had to book in before you got pregnant to get into the birth centre.

Despite that both my daughters were lucky enough to be accepted, although one had to deliver in the delivery suite for various reasons.

It’s a great model, basically a compromise between a homebirth and a hospital birth.

sepi sepi 10:55 pm 08 Mar 09

Birth Centre – they did offer to put me on a waiting list, but I didn’t want to have indefinite plans. And the whole benefit is continuity of care, which you don’t get if you can only get in there at 25 weeks or whatever.

As far as babies that come early, I think they won’t let you give birth at the Birth Centre more than 4 weeks early.

In any case – I believe the future of the birth centre is in doubt in the new Woden Hospital renovations. Despite being so popular it is continually booked out.

Granny Granny 8:55 pm 08 Mar 09

I love sleeping with my kids, but I love not sleeping with them too. We do a mix of both.

astrojax astrojax 8:54 pm 08 Mar 09

Birth Centre – tried to book in about about 3 weeks pregnant – already booked up.

sepi, this perturbed me – how many women even know they are pregnant at 3 weeks – how small is this place? what do they do when 8-month-ago bookings arrive, how shall we say, early?

great thread, btw – and echo all the other congrats, feathergirl! i hope you’ve not been watching that awful series on bringing up babies on the abc – at least not listening to the oldest-fashioned cow!

when will tabitha be posting here, telling us her side?? ; )

grunge_hippy grunge_hippy 8:34 pm 08 Mar 09

someone i know did that and they are still sharing the bed at the age of 6, almost 7. i was insistent that my daughter was to have her own bed. when she was first born, it was a bassinette beside the bed. at about 3 months she moved into her own room. i do not regret it. She is now 3 and prefers her own bed to ours, which doesnt mean she doesnt come in for cuddles!

i had my daughter also at the birthing suite at TCH, but ended up upstairs as a precaution because i was a high risk pregnancy. had my own room and stayed essentially 2 nights (she was born 2am, so technically one night, plus an extra night) Would go back there in a flash. it was great, even if i didnt get to enjoy the suite itself, the midwives were awesome.

MWF MWF 6:20 pm 08 Mar 09

Bed sharing with a baby is safe as long as you make it safe.

The major rules for bed sharing with a baby are:

The parents are not drunk or drugged.

The baby has it’s own bedding – put the baby on top of your bedding, give the baby their own bed covering and keep the baby well away from any pillows.

Don’t smoke. The smoke clings to your hair and clothing.

I have safely attachment parented 2 children. My first child died because the Dr.s screwed up so I took no chances with the live ones we, eventually, got.

I breastfed and co-slept with my toddler through my pregnancy. Then I co-slept and tandem breastfed a newborn and a toddler. I made sure our bedding was safe. I was never drunk or drugged.

Bed sharing is, in my opinion, the easiest way to ensure breastfeeding continues – just roll over and feed and then everyone goes back to sleep.

It took me a while to warm to the concept of attachment parenting, co-sleeping and extended breastfeeding. However, it worked for us and our children.

Granny Granny 11:44 am 08 Mar 09

The private experience at Calvary sounds fantastic!

With my last child I went into hospital had lunch, had the baby, and went home for dinner that night – not because I wanted to but because I hate the public system so much now I would rather be home.

Either way, being at home or in the public maternity ward is exhausting for me these days so of the two I choose to be at home.

I don’t think my partner really realises how huge it is to give birth, physically, emotionally and hormonally.

You know, just because I’m walking around and I look ok, doesn’t mean I feel ok.

He’d put me on the phone to speak to everybody who called, visitors would come and stay all day.

I love these people, but I found it completely exhausting and I really wasn’t up to it.

I couldn’t make him understand, because I looked alright and I’m by nature fairly cheery and bubbly.

I honestly think the lack of post-partum rest that new mums often get these days is a major factor in developing post-natal depression. I can’t prove it, but!

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