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.

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