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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
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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 dvbooks@mac.com 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 1:12 pm 09 Mar 09

not according to the natives, apparently 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 10:57 am 09 Mar 09

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

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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!

smilesr 10:17 am 08 Mar 09

Calvary Private for me was a wonderful experience for both my births, so much so that I get a warm, fuzzy, nurtured feeling whenever I drive by now! Double bed in own big room, good food (and lots of it too including a late night supper and also sandwiches and breakfast gear always in the kitchen for partners, who were also encouraged to stay), stay as long as you like, fantastic midwives always on call, etc.

Really the variety of responses here highlights more that having a choice is more important than trying to have one system that suits everybody. I couldn’t have dealt with Granny’s experience of 4 in a room (my own room was priority no.1) nor with being shunted out the day after. It was nice being able to consult a midwife in the middle of the 3rd night about the strange gooiness in my baby’s stumpy bit, those midwives on call were great, especially when the milk starts to come in and the happy hormones go down; and going home to a house that needs cleaning and meals prepared? Not for me – I didn’t really want to leave the hospital!
But then that’s my right to choose.

Granny 11:00 pm 07 Mar 09

Sounds beautiful, Mrs Special G!

I also favour minimal intervention which was one reason for choosing a homebirth with my fifth child. My daughter also had a very positive experience with the birth centre when her son was born two years ago.

: )

Special G 10:05 pm 07 Mar 09

From Mrs G –

Congratulations to everyone who shared bub/hospital stories. Every woman, birth and baby are different and so will our experiences with post-natal care…

We had our daughter (almost 2 and a half) and son (9 months) both through the Birth Centre at the Canberra Hospital and would strongly recommend it to anyone who wants continuity of care with a midwife (midwives look after ‘normal’ pregnancies, ob/gyn’s are specialist doctors usually only needed if there are problems); a ‘home like’ environment to labour, birth and stay in (double bed, baby crib, ensuite, couch, table and chairs, lounge room and kitchen); if you want to go home soon after birth (usually within 24 hours) with post natal care from your midwife at home for 10 days after birth; minimal or no use of drugs; support networks with the ante-natal groups organised into ‘share’ sessions where new mums and expectant mums meet to talk about ACTUAL experiences in a casual environment; and so much more…

Our experiences had us “up in delivery suite” with our daughter with our midwife plus an ob/gyn, registrar and a pediatric specialist as I had a sucessful natural delivery of a breech (bottom first) baby (no drugs), where we then moved to a room in the birth centre for an o’night stay. If we needed a nurse we could call the nurses ‘up stairs’. We got chinese take away for dinner (hospital dinner service had finished) and had all the regular checks and services the next day – newborn health check by a dr, newborn hearing test, physio check, etc. We were home around 24 hours after our gorgeous girl was born and saw our primary or secondary midwife everyday for 10 day, and they were always just a phone call away.

Our son’s birth was even more low-key. He turned from the breech position a few weeks before birth so he was in the bath in the birth centre with just me, my hubby (Special G), our midwife and a registrar (only because she wanted to see an intervention free birth and promised to sit quietly in the corner), also no drugs. We had take away indian for dinner, checks etc in the morning and were home 17 hours after our handsome little boy was born. We had 7 days of at home post-natal care from our primary and secondary midwives before discharge.

We had wonderful birthing experiences at the birthing centre through the Canberra Midwifery Program and can not sing it’s praises enough. We still keep in contact with our midwives (they also have a birth Centre Christmas party every year) and have made wonderful friends with our ante-natal class. We were supported with the choices we made, even by the ob/gyn when we wanted a natural breech birth. No regrets and it was perfect for us.

I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, infact I’m sure some people would be horrified with the idea of not having an ob/gyn there (if you need it you’ll get a Dr), drug free (gas or pethadine at most before you go ‘up stairs’), natural birthing (they don’t take on people who want an elective caesarean), strict visiting times, a nursery to put the babies in, etc. but that’s why there are so many options available to us.

Research and think about what’s important to you for ante- and post-natal care for you, your partner and you baby and go with it.

If you want to go with the birth centre/Canberra Midwifery Program book early!!! We were fortunate and got in straight away, no waiting lists, but other friends have not been so lucky – take one of those ‘early’ tests and call the Birth Centre as soon as it shows positive 🙂

Mrs Special G

Dacquiri 8:26 pm 07 Mar 09

Loved this review — not only because it reminded me of my experience giving birth at Royal Canberra in 1989 (where the ob/gyn Registrar, who was scarily incompetent, wore a badge emploring ‘Trust Me – I’m a Doctor’), but because it opens up all kinds of possibilities for useful reviews, particularly experiences at the appropriately-named Casualty departments (they are, in our experience, extremely casual) and other medical facilities (if you turn up at the walk-in, bulk-billing Ginninderra Med. Centre at 6pm when the Brumbies are playing, there is no wait!).

Great review, Feathergirl, and Granny, you took me back to the glory days of RCH where they made Canberra’s best coffee milkshakes and the nurses showed the new mums how to do everything.

jmac 6:53 pm 07 Mar 09

Hey Feathergirl, congratulations on the birth of your bub. I went through the Canberra Hospital 4 months ago with the birth of my first baby. I found them to be absolutely fantastic and feel that we have quite a good public health system in Canberra. I had quite a long labour that ended in an emergency cesarean and the care i got was great. They even wanted me to stay longer but i asked to go home because i felt i would be more comfortable there. Very different from what everyone told me in that they want to kick you out straight away! And the follow up care was just as good.

Word of warning though…which you probably already have worked out…every midwife tells you something different! And they all tell you what you should do but at the end of the day you need to do what works for you and what your baby wants. And don’t read too many baby books because they are the same, they tell you what you should do based on the average baby…what the hell is the average baby?! 😛

Granny 6:13 pm 07 Mar 09

They were certainly taking a risk with the colicky ones!

I-filed 5:51 pm 07 Mar 09

Feathergirl said :

They also didn’t let you take the baby home till you paid the bill .

How many new mums took advantage of that service I wonder … See you tomorrow! I’ll come back and pay after a night’s rest! Come to think of it, I’ll just call in for the day tomorrow, and come back and collect the day after! 🙂

Igglepiggle 5:30 pm 07 Mar 09

Hahahaha too true.

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