Bub Talk

Birthing and Recovery – HK vs US

Confession: I was somewhat terrified of the whole labour, delivery and recovery experience at Lenox Hill after reading unfavourable reviews online. But my obgyn delivers only at Lenox Hill, I didn’t have a choice.

I’m happy to report that my fears were unfounded; well save the bit about sharing a room post delivery.

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Hospital

C was delivered at Hotel Matilda Hospital, one of the top (if not THE TOP) private hospitals in HK for a low risk, uncomplicated pregnancy / delivery. My obgyn, Dr. Edmund Hon, summarized the 3 private hospitals we were considering as such:

Matilda: Varied patients, may not get a space for my due date
Adventist: More American, straight forward staffs, does not do warm and fuzzy care
Canossa: Serves a wealthy, Asian clientele

Obviously Matilda was my top pick (i had a bad experience in Canossa in 2005 for a bad stomach virus episode in which I was warded for 3 days). The only caveat was needing to book the hospital by placing a HKD 20,000 deposit when I was 6 weeks along; we didn’t even know if the pregnancy was viable at that point!

In NYC, there was no need to pre-register nor place any deposit. Apparently if your obgyn has hospital privileges you will be given a bed; they don’t turn you away I guess.

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Costs

I had an all singing, all dancing healthcare cover in HK through MY job; my total costs was HKD 6,667 for the entire pregnancy and delivery. That was a fraction of actual charges (upwards of HKD 100,000). The Cigna International plan that Macquarie non-HK citizens were entitled to was a godsend.

Here, despite paying through my nose for private healthcare, I still have a maximum out of pocket cost of USD 2,800 of which USD 2,500 comes out of pre-tax income (thus lowering my tax liability). I am hoping there are no other hidden costs; I have called UHC three times to confirm and they have all said I shouldn’t need to pay more than USD2,800. We shall see.

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L&D Suite

To be honest I don’t remember much about Matilda’s L&D suite. It was the first time I was in such excruciating pain; I was 6cm dilated when the anaesthetist arrived to administer the epidural. All I recall is that it was big, at least 1.5 times bigger than Lenox Hill’s. Oh and newer too.

Lenox Hill’s is fully equipped and adequate.

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Medical Personnels

Lenox Hill wins hands down! We were so fortunate with the L&D nurse assigned to us. Jennifer was funny and warm compared to some of her other colleagues. We lucked out with the resident (doc) as well; he had to check how far along I was before contacting my Obgyn. He (pity I didn’t get his name) was almost as hilarious as Jennifer. Between the two of them, it made the pain a wee bit easier to bear before I got the epidural.

My anaesthetist in NYC was fab, he explained what he was doing every step of the way and it actually hurt less than it did with C in Matilda. The drug though made me itch (allover) a little!

Throughout my 3-day (2.5 since i was admitted in the middle of the night) stay, the nurses (Fran, Lovely, Rochelle and Nazi) were excellent compared to the ones I had the pleasure of company in the 4 days (3.5) in Matilda.

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Postpartum Room

O.M.G. shared rooms need to be outlawed ASAP. Apparently this is typical of hospitals in NYC.

I was transferred to a 2 bedder around 5.30am as they didn’t have any private rooms available (check out is at 11am). Well they had one room available – the USD 2,400 a night Beyonce suite!! Unfortunately I’m not rap royalty nor rolling in money.

I had the misfortune of 1) rooming with someone who worked in the hospital, 2) had undergone a cesarean, 3) took the window bed and 4) was freaking inconsiderate.

She had visitors from 6am, I guess colleagues who were about to start their shift, who would chatted non-stop. She also left the TV on which meant they had to talk over the TV! She had to be monitored constantly so I could hear the BP and some other machines going on periodically. Her visitors and her then spent the rest of the morning waking back and forth between her bed, the bathroom and the door; basically brushing my curtains knocking into my bed in an already crowded room periodically.

For 5 hours I barely napped 45 minutes. It baffled me that for someone who works in a hospital she could be so inconsiderate!

I made Mr. P beg and grovel for a private room as I couldn’t deal with another day of such din. We were finally placed in our 2nd choice private room at noon and I could finally get some rest. The private room was much bigger than the shared room, there was a pull out sofa bed, a glider and a separate dinning table and chair.

My private room at Matilda (which is up on Victoria Peak 山顶) had a 100 square foot balcony with its own SUN LOUNGER (say what!!) and overlook the HK skyline). Even Queen Bey’s suite can’t boast that; hands down NO COMPARISON!

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Food

Again, no competition here. I could order room service basically anytime I like at Matilda and the food was good. Maybe if we had gotten our first choice room in Lenox Hill (on a renovated floor with a gourmet menu), it would have been better. Thankfully there’s always seamless which brought us the neighbourhood eats.

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Nursery

Matilda wins here. Lenox Hill was soooo understaffed. Made me wonder how long (and how often) was my bub left crying on her own (I hope there is no permanent damage). The nursery was overcrowded!

Learning from experience, I decided against rooming with the bub at all times. 1) I needed the rest to recover and be up and running in the shortest time possible. 2) I knew my milk probably wouldn’t kick in till day 3 or 4 and it’s better to supplement with formula than be stressed and deal with a hungry baby. 3) I needed to give my chaffed nipples a break.

I also wanted to ensure C didn’t feel left out, she stayed with me on my last night in the room.

Matilda had a staff to baby ratio of almost 1:2; all the babies definitely received plenty of attention. Too bad as a first time mother I didn’t make full use of that 😦

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