Eva (second birth – private hospital): We were moving while I was pregnant and so I had to think about where to have an obstetrician and we had to have the second baby because I couldn’t have it where I’d had my first baby because I didn’t want to have to travel through peak hour traffic while in labour. So I’ve had a think about what was available around here and I thought I’d go private since we had the private health insurance and I’d had a couple of friends who had given birth in that same private hospital and they’d said good things. So picked an obstetrician that I knew delivered in that hospital and decided to go for that.
Julia (first birth – private hospital): We chose an obstetrician that we knew was working at the hospital that we wanted to birth at, so he was there. For my whole pregnancy I saw him and obviously for the birth he was there. Then the midwives in the hospital were there, they kind of came and they were coming and going throughout the whole birth.
Eva: For the birth I had the appointments with the obstetrician and that was just in his private rooms, not at the hospital, but I got to go to the hospital to have the anti-D injections that you have when you’ve got a negative blood type. So I got to meet the midwives, got to see the birthing suites there and one of the midwives, because it was my second baby, and I wasn’t doing the antenatal classes, she gave me the little tour of the ward that you would normally do if you were doing the classes there. So I got to know the place there, so they were all lovely.
Much smaller than my first experience, which had been in the public hospital. So it was a much smaller birthing suite, only 3 rooms, and much smaller ward, but was all lovely. Then the birth experience was good, painful but good. The midwives were lovely. My obstetrician, because he was around, and he practises nearby, came in earlier and just assessed how I was going, and then came in for the bit that they normally come in, the kind of delivery pushing part at the end.
Julia: My husband and my doula, they were both there as my support team and they were both fantastic. They were probably what made the experience in the private hospital great because I had a birth plan and they made sure that got accepted and respected by the midwives that came.
Eva: I felt very confident in my obstetrician. It was great to have had a relationship with him leading up to the birth and that I knew he would be there and I felt very confident in his skills and abilities. Thankfully it was a straightforward birth, but just knowing that if anything went wrong I had confidence in him being there. The staff, they talked about the anaesthetist and those sorts of things. The obstetrician knew who the anaesthetist was and that, so that gave me confidence in him as well doing the epidural. I felt very supported in our decisions on pain control.
If it had been a more complicated birth, or if the little one had had any problems, small private hospitals I know don’t have the neonatal intensive care. Not all big public hospitals do, but that was something that I knew was always a risk going to a small private hospital, that I would have to be moved if something really complicated or traumatic happened, and if there was something wrong with the little one, she could end up in a different hospital to me because if she needed intensive care, she’d have to go to another hospital. So that was a definite con.
Cost of the other con I guess. As much as you’ve got private health insurance covering a large chunk of it, you still end up out of pocket probably, for me, 2-3 grand, but it depends on your obstetrician.
Julia: Looking back I didn’t need any of the medical stuff they actually had set up in emergency and I guess it’s fantastic if you do have an emergency or if you’re a high-risk patient, then it’s a great place to give birth because you’re safe.
Eva: The postnatal care was good, it was a little bit – at first I thought I would have to go into a shared room, which is a bit disappointing when you’re paying for a private hospital and you’ve paid a lot of money to private health insurance for a long time leading up to that and you kind of hoping you’re going to get a single room, but it’s not always guaranteed if the ward’s full. In the end, after the first night, I was moved to a private room anyway and the second bed in my double room never got filled while I was there so it was fine. But that was – just the fact that you’re paying for something and then realise that you might not get the private room anyway is a bit of a disappointment I think, I guess, or a risk you take. It probably depends on which private hospital you go to, but I kind of had expectations that there was going to be posh food and it was going to be a bit hotel like. But it wasn’t, it still very much felt like a hospital and it was still very much hospital food.
Julia: I was in the private hospital for 4 days after the birth and they came in obviously every day a few times and check the baby and me. The obstetrician, I saw him for my 6 week check up as well, but he wasn’t really there for the emotional support.
Eva: Following the birth the postnatal care was generally really good. The care from the nurses was great. My Doctor came in every day and saw me. The anaesthetist came in and checked how my wound was going from the epidural, so I was happy with all of that care. There was a paediatrician there that saw Isobel a couple of times, and then you had the option of following up with the same paediatrician afterwards, because he’s got private rooms nearby.
Julia: Make sure that you know what you want out of what’s coming up and to fight for it as well. To make sure if you have a wish of say a water birth, or no interventions, to take that to your – say you’re seeing your obstetrician, to take it to the obstetrician and say, are you OK with that? Is this something you actually support?
Eva: I didn’t do a whole lot of research I have to say. But I found it comforting to get recommendations from people. So if there are people you know in the area that have had babies there, then talking to them might give you the best information.