On Saturday, before we did Pink Dot, Ravi and I had a private tour of the maternity stuff at Gleneagles Hospital. Normally they do group tours, but I needed to talk to the NICU nurses and such, so they decided to give us a private tour.
From start to finish I was really impressed by the tour, the staff and the hospital. In Boston you wouldn’t get a private tour unless you were married to a Red Sox player or maybe if you’re Tom Brady’s wife. Much less one that lasts 90 minutes.
This is the second hospital I’d toured for maternity reasons in Singapore. The first was Thomson Hospital, which caters exclusively to pregnant women. Which is nice, except that they’re not necessarily equipped to handle high risk cases. The NICU is a super small room with no way to isolate a baby who needs it…if a baby is that sick, they’re moved to KK Women’s and Childrens (assuming there’s room in their NICU). Obviously we hope that this baby will not need any of the sort of care that Elanor did, but after going through everything with E, I want to make sure that wherever I deliver is up to the challenge of a sick baby.
Most of what I saw was fairly standard. Birthing room with uncomfortable sleep chair for a partner/friend, check. Hospital room was nice…they (like most private hospitals) are trying for more of a “hotel” vibe than a hospital vibe (something that BI can’t be accused of….BI is nice, but it’s very much a hospital set up). There’s a tv and dvd player in every room (which is nice, but I’ll have my laptop assuming I’m THAT bored in the 2 day stay and want to do something other than be on FB). I asked about a fridge and was told that they could get one, no problem (most likely for a fee, but whatever).
The NICU was large. Rather than set up for private rooms, it’s one big open room with one private room off to the side should a child be ill enough to need “droplet” precautions (which I’m familiar with as E needed that at one point in her hospital stay). The nurses were very nice and talked me through visitation procedures, IV procedures (especially as it’s the belief of the Infectious Disease team that E’s illness was caused when a bacteria met one of her wounds from taking out her own IV’s…I’m terrified of them now–for my kids, not so much for me), and so forth. I’m likely to be on the same floor as the NICU as well, so that would be more conveinent than the two floor journey I made in Boston to get to Ellie.
I also got to look in the window of an OR and talk to an OR nurse about C section procedures. Asian sizing caused its usual issues when I couldn’t get the XL top over my chest…which for the record, isn’t actually that big and they found me men’s scrubs instead (which did fit, thankfully).
I walked away feeling like while Gleneagles isn’t the rival of a top notch Boston hospital (which has the full funding of Harvard Med or Tufts or whatever behind it), it’s probably the equal to any “good” hospital in the US and better than the more rural hospital I was born in.
The thing that struck me again and again is how fundamentally different Singaporean and US approaches are to birth/post partum. In the US, the hospital sets the policy and the doctors all follow it. Here, the hospital doesn’t really have a ton of policies, and it’s largely about your doctor’s policies on immediate breastfeeding, partner involvement in the room, etc. The most common question I was asked was “who’s your doctor” and then the nurses would answer based on that because every doctor has different policies. The major benefit, of course, is that you can find a doctor who works with YOUR approach to birthing/post-partum and then go from there instead of being subjected to hospital dictates. Of course, I probably think it’s more of a positive because it’s working to my benefit in this case.
I still have not made a definitive decision about where I’m giving birth, but I *am* leaning towards Singapore. I need a little more time to make sure of how I feel, but with the combination of a good doctor and the ability to pay for things I care about like a fridge coupled with a hospital that’s very user friendly (they’re willing to make plenty of accomodations…things like if I have a C section and the baby is ready to go to the room before I am, that they’ll let Ravi take the baby to the room and cuddle him/her, they’re willing to work with me to have my pre-pumped colostrum ready if the baby needs some extra nutrients rather than go straight to formula, etc).