The Birthplace: A (Long Overdue) Review

I've been joke-accused of turning this space into a mommy blog, gasp. Let me just say - I would love to gush about my daughter all. the. time. But this blog's going to stay what it always has been - a place where I compile info & observations on things I'm interested in to (hopefully) save people some time if they're researching the same things. Those things just happen to be baby related at the moment. 

...And, of course, I'll occasionally pontificate or post something random, just because I can :D

I wrote about how we chose to have our baby at The Birthplace, Hyderabad before. So it's only fair to follow up and talk about our experience there - especially given it completely justified our decision to go with them. Through the move back to India, with its associated craziness; then the struggle through the first couple of weeks with a newborn, The Birthplace was always my safe spot, the voice of sanity in all the chaos. 

There was my doctor, Pratibha Narayan, who was excellent - she clearly distinguished my mom's diabetes from my own sugar levels when other doctors would have marked me high-risk by default. At the same time, she kept a close eye on my levels throughout, never hesitating to tell me when something could build into a red flag. All the while, the biggest thing she did for my peace of mind was pointedly tell any relatives who came with me to chill on the superstitious beliefs they had. She distinguished fact from fiction clearly, and thank God for that, because I heard a zillion random theories when I was pregnant. Despite being the primary doctor for what seemed like every person I spoke to at The Birthplace, she always responded to my emails/texts on the same day. Actually, she still does.

That responsiveness and respect for time is true of everyone and everything at The Birthplace. I was never kept waiting for an appointment unless someone else was having an emergency surgery. Yet, I never felt hurried when I had an appointment. Perhaps best of all, any reports that were required were emailed to me within 24/48 hours, and a follow-up phone call was made to talk through the results and what I should do next. The in-house pharmacy always had everything I needed, so they saved me trips to other places. 

Everyone, from the receptionist to the doctors to the cleaning staff, could speak English and/or Hindi. Yes, I've lived in Hyderabad on & off for a few years, and I can understand Telugu; but speaking it takes real focus and that's not something I'd particularly want to do when pregnant/delivering. Being able to talk in languages I'm comfortable with was a huge load off my mind. And it's not just the language prowess that was impressive, it was the communication skills too. Everyone I met had a great personality, was helpful, consistent, and clearly knew their stuff. Plus, they actually seemed to care! I'm always amazed that everyone from the marketing team to the desk staff address me by my name and remember my details. 

And I've mentioned the 4D scans before, but I have to say it again - they're amazing. Being able to lie back comfortably & watch our baby in real time, on a projected HD screen, with my husband, unhurried, while the doctor gushed how cute our chubby baby was, was an incomparable experience that I don't think exists anywhere else (I have had scans in other places and they were great, but this was truly beyond that).

So I was expecting a good experience with the delivery, but I had no idea how good it would be. Let me start by saying I went in at a time that was very convenient for me & my visitors, but not so much for the hospital - about 4:30AM on a Sunday morning. I went in with no notice, and had the baby within half an hour. And yet, between the time that I called to tell them I was coming and the time I got there, I was met by a team of help staff, an on-call doctor, and - when she confirmed I was really having the baby that fast - another on-call doctor, my gynaec, a pediatrician, and yet more support staff. Despite it being a Sunday, and my being the only resident at The Birthplace at the time, all my meals were arranged, any requests were catered to, and I received a visit from the senior pediatrician, Dr Sivaranjani, on the same day.

Despite having no time to read through my birth plan, everything went exactly as I'd have wished, given The Birthplace's philosophy is pretty much the same as mine anyway. I got skin to skin, A got to watch the baby get weighed etc, and we got to feed her straight away. Which brings me to another important thing that I don't think any other hospital in the world has - learning to breastfeed at The Birthplace is amazing. Every single time I fed for the next three days, at least one nurse or doctor was in the room, just standing by to see if they could help. I can't tell you what a difference this makes. I loved just being told that I was doing great, and having the additional hands readily available when the baby and I were both figuring out how to make it all work.

There's a lot going on when you've just had a baby - you need to figure out your after-delivery care, you need to eat more often, drink a lot more water, and figure out what to do with the baby and your husband and all your visitors, all while not being at your physical best. The Birthplace ensured my needs were taken care of, and that I was gently eased into this new normal. From the baby's bath each morning, to mine; from meal & medication reminders, to having a nutritionist, physical therapist, and lactation consultant check in on me, they made sure to think of everything which I may not have had the mindspace to think about myself.

And it's not just hyperbole - if you've to stay more than 2 days (3 if you've had a C-sec) for medical concerns, they don't charge you anything extra. eM looked a little yellow, so we stayed back an extra day & a half to make sure she wasn't jaundiced. We were given just as much attention and care as on the days we paid for. By the last day, we felt we knew everyone on the staff well, and we really, really wanted to tip the nurses who'd taken such good care of us. Without exception, they all refused. Ditto most of the cleaning staff who'd helped so much with baths and recovery. It literally made me choke up. While The Birthplace gets some flack for being pricey and not accepting insurance up-front (so you need to pay and then get refunded), I think it's worth every penny. 

True confession: on day 5 with my new daughter, I was desperately considering how to get myself re-admitted so life could go back to being peaches & roses! No need for such drastic measures, I return frequently to meet our pediatrician, who's every bit as supportive, no-nonsense, and reassuring as my gynaec. It's a weird thing to say about a hospital, but I'm glad my relationship with them will continue.

As always, a disclaimer that this review wasn't paid for (in fact, I paid for the pleasure of reviewing them!) and all opinions are my own. In the interest of full disclosure: I won an upgrade to a luxury suite, as well as a free newborn photo-shoot (which reminds me, I need to go get said newborn photo-shoot before she's no longer 'new') at an event that The Birthplace sponsored. So I got a few extra perks when I stayed there, but I've compared notes with friends and they really are this nice to everyone.

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