Delivering at public hospitals – not so bad after all


Monday, November 12, 2018

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LAST week we highlighted that though antenatal care, delivery, and post-natal care for mother and child are free in public health facilities, some mothers choose to have their babies in private or semi-private hospitals, as they believe the hospital fees are but a small price to pay for their babies' big début into the world. Others would have heard horror stories from women who used the public system that may have made them think that going private was the way to go, no matter the expense.

But most Jamaican babies' first glimpse of the world is in a public hospital, and whether because of the proximity to home, the high cost of delivering privately, or sheer preference, most women choose to go the public route when having a baby. And according to a few of these women we spoke to, while they entered with trepidation, they soon realised that going public was not so bad after all.


CK, Spanish Town Hospital:

I'm not going to say it was an awful experience, because it was OK. The doctors and nurses were not all friendly, but at least they were all professional, and that's fine by me. There was a woman in early labour who was shouting and using expletives the whole time. She kept calling the nurses and doctors just to tell them that her tummy hurt. She annoyed them, and so they got short-tempered with her. I don't blame them. I was annoyed too. I slept on the suturing bed the night after delivery because shortly after I had my baby and was to be stitched up, someone needed to have an emergency C-section done, and they went to attend to her. Then shifts changed and they somehow forgot about me. It hurt to get the stitches the next morning after I was swollen shut, but I understand that they are short-staffed and things happen sometimes. My baby and I were healthy and that's all that mattered.


MW, Victoria Jubilee Hospital:

The head nurse was rude, but the ladies in pink were very nice. When it was time to deliver my daughter it was about seven trainee doctors who were trying to deliver her after my water broke hours before. If it wasn't for a doctor whom I knew from before, only God knows what would have happened. He had to move them aside and literally went in and took her out. Dry birth hurts like hell, I can tell you. Then after I had her, I told the head nurse that I wasn't producing any milk and the baby was hungry. She said, “A because unnu a young girl unnu nuh wah breastfeed unnu baby. Give the baby the breast.” I tried and tried but no milk was coming. She cried all night. It wasn't until the head nurse left that one of the ladies in pink took my baby and gave her some formula.

And they said I should let her sleep in the little bassinet thing. I did the first night, and when I woke up I saw a roach crawling over her head, so I put her on the bed. The same nurse came and started arguing with me again.


SF, Mandeville Hospital:

My delivery experience was good. One of the student nurses was by my side most of the time, helping me with breathing exercises and letting me know what was happening. She motivated me when I was too tired to push after nearly seven hours of labour, and brought my baby to me after they cleaned him up and taught me how to breastfeed him. I only wish I got her name to find her and get her something. I went back asking [if she was] the name on my child's birth certificate, but that was the name of the midwife on duty, and no one was able to say which student nurse was with me.


OS, Victoria Jubilee Hospital:

My child was delivered at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital. My experience there wasn't bad. The only thing is that they were a bit slow, and the staff wasn't very informative. I would still go back there if I was having another baby though.


TG, Spanish Town Hospital:

Well at Spanish Town it seemed like the more noise you made the more attention they paid to you. I am one who makes no noise no matter how excruciating the pain is. My water broke from the Friday evening when I was at the hospital, and I went on the labour ward early Saturday morning. No doctor came to check on me, just nurses calling the doctors telling them how much pain I was in. They never did anything. It wasn't until Sunday morning when a doctor finally decided to have a look at me that they all started running around and paying attention to me. They did a sonogram and found out that the baby's heartbeat was fluctuating, so I had to do a C-section in order not to distress the baby any further.


YB, Spanish Town Hospital:

They treated me like a normal person. They didn't treat me badly, but I guess because they are used to women complaining that they are feeling pain everyday, they didn't really have any compassion. The only thing I didn't like was that when it was time to deliver one of them was telling me that I needed to behave myself. I had to tell her to stop the noise, because the baby was coming. I was feeling pain and she was supposed to be making sure my baby was OK, but she was there talking about how I should behave.

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