In the end, we went to Hadassah Ein Kerem for the birth. It was an issue of confidence and although I think I still would have preferred a homebirth, I can say with 20/20 retrospective vision that I’m comfortable with our experience – it was positive, it was successful and… it was lucky, as these things are all about good timing. Weekend birth, slow night, calm staff, relatively empty maternity wards.
As I found when I was researching hospital vs homebirth, there isn’t much information about hospital experiences in Israel from mothers here. In short, here’s how I happened to find Hadassah that night:
- We left for the hospital as late as possible, as suggested by many. Laboring at home is just always going to be more comfortable and conducive to progressing as you’re not strapped to fetal monitors or constricted by IVs. When we were advised by our midwife/doula to go, we left, sneaking out of our building at around 5pm on Shabbat day. A neighbor was sitting outside and gave us a thumbs up.
- When we got to Hadassah, it was eerily silent in the labor ward. I was in and out of the kabala in about twenty minutes or so. There was no one else there.
- I got a really nice labor room in the back of the floor. It was a newer room than the one we were shown on the hospital tour. Wood-looking floors, dim lighting, decent bathroom.
- The midwife on duty was great and actually knew my doula (who is actually a homebirth midwife and used to work at Hadassah). The second midwife who came later as the shift changed (they change at 3pm, 11pm and 7am). was rougher around the edges but also knew my doula which helped a lot. She even consulted with her professionally, midwife to midwife, towards the end.
- The fetal monitoring was overkill, but you’re supposed to expect that from a hospital experience. It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but still, it got annoying. That was the biggest point of conflict.
- A student midwife was in attendance with my second shift midwife, and I was able to refuse her doing much to me. They tried to give me a hard time but in the end I was able to make my point.
- We expressed our desire to go as natural as possible, and they were great about respecting that. The baby was placed straight onto my stomach after a very short rub down. No cord was cut as requested, so the placenta came fairly easily. My husband was actually asked if he wanted to cut the cord, which we hadn’t even considered, so it was pretty cool he got to do that (though a little scary when the baby kicked his foot up right next to the scissors just before he was going to cut).
- We were very lucky with the rooming situation. I was worried about not getting rooming in – or a room at all, as I’ve heard happens – but after the birth the midwife came in and told me rooming in was ready for me. I was ecstatic, and even moreso when I discovered I wouldn’t be having a roommate – in fact, I didn’t have an overnight roommate the entire stay (two nights) and my husband was able to illegitmately stay over with me (kinda reminded me of college a bit).
- I don’t think the aftercare was that great. That might have been the most disappointing part. I was never checked except for a doc poking around my stomach for about five seconds before I was discharged.
- The nurses are trained to help you with breastfeeding, but they ‘did’ more than they ‘showed.’ I saw two different actual lactation consultants over the two days, who were great, but they have an hour in the morning each day and if you miss that, you miss it. I came home confused and frustrated, and ended up seeing a friend who is also a breastfeeding consultant.
Next time, who knows… Maybe I’ll get that homebirth.