Isn't it interesting? Yup, hospital tours before welcoming new life into the world.
Here, most local hospitals offer free, narrated walking tours of the obstetrical floor & maternity wards at designated times. As first-time parents-to-be, Chean and I are super eager to get ourselves familiar with childbirth procedures in the United States. It's a whole new and totally different experience than what we used to know in Malaysia; there are so much information to grasp and so many new things to learn. Say...
1) You don't necessarily have to give birth in hospital. A Planned home birth with assistance from experienced midwife is nothing new here although that idea sounds completely insane and unacceptable in M'sia.
2) Unlike Asia, mum-to-be hardly gets to choose or request a scheduled c-section when there is no medical reason. Although nearly 1 in 3 women have babies by c-section these days, natural birth is highly recommended and epidural is optional.
3) Insurance, insurance, insurance. You need that or else you will have to bare the ridiculously high medical cost. Most low-risk and uncomplicated vaginal birth in a traditional hospital setting cost anywhere from US$5,000 to US$20,000. The average cost of a typical C-section without any complications can range from US$14,000 to US$25,000 or more, depending on the area and the level of medical care required (source from ehow.com, 2011). Plus the medical cost of the monthly regular OB visits is not even included yet @.@
** I have no idea how illegal and undocumented immigrants gave birth in the U.S without any insurance plans, my best guess is that they get free medical care from public hospitals. And ya, we, taxpayers bare the cost for them =.=lll
4) The whole process of choosing the right OB doc is a pain in the ass, it's nerve-wracking, at least to me. First, you need to pick a doc within your health insurance network; the filtering process took us ages and eventually we decided to drive down to Denver instead of giving birth in Boulder. I don't mind the an-hour-plus commute, just bloody get me a good doc that I can click with! Then, you need to check to see what hospital your doctor is affiliated with. Hospitals are not all the same, that took us another lifetime to picking the one that we are most comfortable with.
Anyway, we haven't really make the solid decision on the hospital thing yet. That's where the tours kick in. Hence, being humbly deprived of knowledge, we signed up for two tours last Saturday, with two hospitals that my OB doc has privileges at...
Exempla St. Joseph Hospital
#1 The labor & delivery room for vaginal birth. Very spacious & tranquil.
#3 With huge jacuzzi tub too, perfect for those who're planning a water birth I guess.
** Scheduled C-section will be performed in surgical unit instead, which we are not allowed to visit due to infection control guidelines & hospital policies.
#4 The recovery room. Hmm, not liking it that much, kinda looks Holiday-Inn-ish to us. We were told that C-sec mums will be assigned to a single bed instead of queen size bed. Well... not so much of a different still, right? :p
#6 Chean said I seem psychotically anxious throughout the tour, especially in the labor room, and well, this pic proves his point--I wasn't aware that I was constantly picking my nails & peeling the cuticles!!! I'm scared. No lie.
The first tour lasted about an hour then we went for a break at our favorite Sushi place, Sushi Sasa. We came here very very often but I have yet to blog about it :p
#7 Lunch time!
#10 His veggie salad.
#11 My miso soup.
#12 Spider roll, slurpssss~~
#13 How I wish I could taste those mouthwatering sashimi (T___T)
#14 Bento Set with assorted teriyaki seafoods & veggie tempura. My favorite ^^V
As soon as we finished stuffing ourselves, we moved on to another hospital tour... Packed schedule but we love being efficiently productive.
Presbyterian St. Luke's
#16 Posing at the Family Waiting Lounge while waiting for the tour to begin.
#17 The labor room, which seems to be pretty well-equipped, still it doesn't live up to my expectation. I dunno, but the private hospitals in Asia seem a lot more high-tech to me. Hmm...
#20 The recovery room. That's how the c-section post-op recovery room looks like.
#21 Some of the concerns & questions that I listed down days before the tours. Not quite a rigorous & extensive study I've done, but I did my homework, all the time. Hate being unprepared for planned events. It's a very long note actually but I just screen grabbed a page, did have all my questions answered though ;)
These two hospitals are super close to one another, they are just a few blocks away. Both share very similar values and practices about parent-baby bonding, breastfeeding and rooming-in policies that align with our wants & needs. We like St. Luke's newer equipments and facilities, it's like a love at first sight and the environment is presumably more pleasant to look at, but we have to really see beyond the surface because the medical staff & team's expertise (anesthetist, lactation consultant, NICU pediatricians & nurses) is what we fundamentally are shooting for.
A real tough decision to make indeed, along with the mounting anxiety and anticipation. Gonna thoroughly discuss this again with my OB doc as we devastatingly want to make an informed and conscious decision. Oh, don't ask cause I haven't decided to go with vaginal birth or C-sec yet. Another long story to share, I'll tell you more about my drastic emotional roller coaster ride next time.
Wish me luck,