April 19, 2006

Brooklyn: Great Place To Conceive, Wouldn't Want To Deliver There

I'm reading along in the NY Observer about how all the Park Slope baby boom is actually born in Manhattan, because that's where the "roving Starbuck's carts" [Lenox] and hydrotherapy-enhanced birthing centers [St Luke's] and cushy birthing suites are [NYU], and I'm thinking, come on: this is another one of those made-for-media non-trend stories about over-pampered yuppies. Oy.

But then I read this:

On a recent Monday morning, New York Methodist Hospitalĺ─˘s associate director of maternal child-health nursing, Theresa Uva, was zipping around the fourth-floor labor and delivery ward, doing her best zealous-realtor impression. Small and cheery, with a purple smiley-face sticker stuck to her lab-coat lapel, she proudly showed off fetal monitors, high-tech ĺ─˙Star Warsĺ─¨ lights and new postpartum roomsĺ─ţall the while ticking off a list of planned innovations: 19 private overnight rooms, 50 beds total, a ĺ─˙tremendousĺ─¨ new nursery, future ĺ─˙support groupsĺ─¨ for breast-feeding moms, a full-time lactation consultant and a postpartum consultant.
And I'm like, wha?? NO private recovery rooms? Old nursery? NO fulltime lactation consultant?

No wonder people are schlepping back into the city to have their babies.

Read it quick, the Observer clamps down on its archives after a week.

718 Mommies-to-Be Escape to Manhattan For Ritzy Hospitals [observer]


I live a few blocks from LICH and yet I made that trek over the bridge and up the FDR to E 68 Street every week for nine months - and wouldn't have traded it for the world. And no, not just because I got a free Chanel goodie bag upon check-out. But I do like the face cream.

It's fascinating to me that there isn't more entrepreneurial development in this field. I live in the Park Slope of the Bay Area, and here in Berkeley/Oakland, there are no freestanding birthing centers, and hospital birth center choices are limited. Wha? The principal l&d hospital just last year opened more private recovery rooms - before that, it was hit or miss (although, to their credit, they've always been good on LC support, rooming in, and low-intervention birth). Still, if there's not a market here or in Park Slope for posh birthing facilities, where the heck is there one? I wonder what the barrier is to developing these kind of facilities -- regulatory, insurance, anti-competitive medical group practices, etc. Anyone know?

Well my father-in-law is on the board at St Lukes in San Fran and he said awhile back they redid their L&D to feel more comfortable and homey and it flopped. The reason being they discovered was women who wanted that sort of homey feel tend to birth at home rather than a hospital and those who choose a hospital often feel comforted by the clinical atmosphere. And I think those free standing birth centers fare the same fate. I know as a woman who has recently made had to make this decsision, I looked at our local cushy birthing center and while it was nice I thought why bother with that when I have my own home and that would be so much more comfortable. I am sure there are women who want a homey hospital, but I do not think they are a large market.

[the article didn't mention that the main birthing center in Manhattan--at Beth Israel??--closed a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, something like 30% of the births at Lenox Hill are scheduled c-sections. I think. -ed.]

We toured St. Lukes recently and found that the much-touted "hominess" of the birthing center was comprised of cabbage rose wallpaper, second-rate B&B furniture, and a spring-hinged oil painting (more roses) concealing a vault of infant recessitation equipment. (The mechano-painting was manufactured by a company called "Art Works." But I digress.) The lactation consultant was recently let go for lack of funding. So I'll be staying in Brooklyn-- the midwives I liked best deliver at LICH, and the hospital has a relatively low c-section rate, hydrotherapy tubs, and a lactation consultant. As a bonus, I won't have to fixate on cabbage roses while in labor.

P.S. The birthing center that recently closed was Elizabeth Seton, affiliated with St. Vincents... they closed because of skyrocketing insurance costs, not lack of demand.

[ah, that's the one. Thanks. and sorry. And totally with you on the roses. -ed.]

We've been very happy with LICH so far, and are planning to go there for delivery. I have heard that the birthing center there is closed or closing or understaffed, but we're not planning on using it anyway. Labor and delivery was quite satisfactory and the staff we met were fantastic.

I gave birth at Methodist in June 2005 and tell everyone not to go there. The Observer article pretty much summed it up. My roommate and I were actually yelled at, several times, by the nursing staff. My roommate requested lactation help and the nurses discouraged her from breastfeeding, I was told I didn't need any more ice packs for my episiotomy, never mind that I was in pain...I could go on and on and on.

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