With my first child I defaulted to Mt Elizabeth hospital because it was where my OB was based. It was ok but I didn’t think to do a review (or at least don’t remember doing one) because I had nothing to compare it with and it is therefore hard to say whether it was good or bad.
This time round, I delivered at Thomson Medical Center because my OB was on leave and the only OB I know of enough to trust to cover him was Dr Paul Tseng based at TMC. He took over my sister-in-law’s pregnancy a few weeks before delivery and did so competently, and he has a pro-natural reputation, which is important for a someone looking at Vbac.
I did manage a Vbac without epidural but birth story another day. Today is about Mt Elizabeth vs TMC.
First, hospital gown. In both cases, for delivery it’s the standard surgical gown with ties at the back. No problem. But after delivery, Mt Elizabeth had maternity gowns that had buttons on the shoulder that could be undone to let down one sleeve for breastfeeding or openings at the side for more conservative mums. Thomson’ shown is still tied at the back after delivery, meaning that the gown will fall right off if you are not sitting when you feed.
Further, Mt E brings in a change of gowns everyday. So far I have been in TMC 30 hours and have not been offered any change of gown. Once in the middle of the night I walked down the corridor and asked for a new gown when the gown I was wearing was dirtied and the nurse just told me to look for it myself on a trolley.
Next, nurses. I guess both were not great but ok. The TMC midwives know what to do mostly. The Mt E nurses freaked out with my mild contractions when I had a “scheduled” c section, and didn’t know how to use a Doppler device properly. Other than midwives the TMC nurses didn’t have to do any of the slightly higher difficulty things that the Mt E nurses failed in (Doppler device and bed bathing) so I can’t say much save that they were competent enough using an automatic blood pressure monitor and thermometer. I didn’t think the Mt E nurses responded to calls via an intercom like TMC which felt impersonal. But I appreciate the manpower crunch and need to automate so not a big thing for me.
Breastfeeding friendliness. People tend to think of TMC and Ms Wong Bo Boi for baby care and breastfeeding advice. Nobody will say go to Mt E for prenatal classes, for example. So one would think TMC will be leaps and bounds better than Mt E on breastfeeding friendliness. The truth was the complete opposite. I’ve already spoken about the respective gowns’ suitability for breastfeeding. There is also the breastfeeding class. Mt E’s class is hands on. You bring your child in, the lactation consultant explains with a dummy then you try it with their help. It happens daily so you would have lots of practice and hands on guidance. TMc’s class I have yet to attend because the lactation consultant came in when the class was about to start so obviously I chose to have the hands on session, and on my second day there was no class because it’s Christmas. I did, however ask whether I needed to bring my baby when I registered for yesterday’s class intending to attend and was told no. There is no practical component. Well, I might as well just watch the video in my room then.
I’m one of those women whose milk comes in late so on the first day I won’t even have colostrum, which is very scary and demoralizing. At Mt E, I caved a few times asking for small supplements upon the pediatrician’s advice but once I give a nurse the instruction or ask for some formula to be delivered so I can feed, the lactation consultant will charge in and ask why! And offer to help with latching etc. During office hours when I want to feed they will bring in the baby and ask the lactation consultant to come at the same time. With TMC, the lactation consultant doesn’t seem to be based here. You cannot ask for them to come. They come when it suits their schedule. Some are very experienced but the one who visited me yesterday could not get my baby to suckle after latching. I couldn’t either so I’m not saying she’s bad, just doesn’t work magic. The bit that is still a mystery to me though, is that last night after feeding my baby at 8:30pm, I was told my baby will be brought to me at 11:30pm and so at 10pm decided to grab some rest. When I woke up at 4 plus am though, I was surprised that I had not been woken up and went to ask for my baby to feed. An hour later the nurse manager who was also a lactation consultant came over to ask whether I wanted help with nursing and I said ok even though I just fed an hour ago. No harm since she missed the whole night I thought. While chatting, I was surprised to hear her say that she wanted to come earlier but saw the nurse cup feeding my daughter on my instructions! I was very shocked and said there was no such thing. Later a nurse came and said it was she who pushed my baby in at 11:30pm and I told her that I’m tired and asked her to feed formula. Allegedly I even said similac. I have no recollection of such a thing and my husband sleeping next to me didn’t hear this exchange either. It’s a mysterious case of he said she said. There is a chance that I said things in my dreams that I don’t remember. I must admit I know of that happening at least once in my life. But I find it quite unlikely that I will say yes to formula in my dreams or name similac as the brand if I did since my last resort fallback that I had I my mind decided on was enfa.
Finally, food. Food at Mt E was nothing to write home about but food at TMC is downright bad. It was oily and bland (not that I’m a big salt and sugar fan but bland in the sense that stir fried pork with ginger has no ginger fragrance). On the final day, Mt E rolled out a feast on a table like hotel room service for dinner for both husband and I to celebrate. Last night could have been my last dinner (I have the go ahead from doctor to discharge but was considering) but there was no sign of any special meal. Will update if they roll it out tonight.
All in all, in terms of post delivery service and breastfeeding guidance, Mt Elizabeth wins hands down. TMC could potentially have an edge on healthcare professionals’ knowledge and is slightly cheaper, so each has its pros and cons. I must say its scary that the maternity ward staff nurse who was leading a trainee at Mt E did not know how to use a Doppler device so even though there is a lot in this post that seems to suggest I prefer Mt E, it’s not a sure thing that I recommend Mt E, especially if you have a high risk scenario.
I really don’t recommend TMC if you are set on total breastfeeding. Last night the night nursery nurse tried to pull a fast one on me in my sleepy state again. After I fed my baby, when pushing her back, she said “if she don’t cry I don’t supplement, only if she cry then I supplement.” I grunted in my sleepy state but thankfully woke up enough in 10 seconds to say “wait, don’t supplement. If she’s hungry bring her.” Twice this happened. At 2am and then at 5am. Both times I was asked leading questions about supplementing with formula while I was sleepy. The night before last’s event leading to actual supplementation I cannot remember but last night’s events were certainly not cool.