Everything you need to know about the 'Little Luxuries' maternity program

My first child was delivered in a public hospital and the overall experience was quite traumatic. What started out as natural labour ended up in an emergency c-section, infections, and very little support from hospital staff during my recovery. The nurses and midwives were lovely, don't get me wrong, but simply too busy. A classic case of too many mothers on the ward, and not enough midwife hands. Scarred by this experience, I decided the next baby would be delivered in a private hospital, via an obstetrician that I trusted. I wanted to know that my health, and my baby's, was someone's top priority, and I was prepared to pay for the experience (even though the out of pocket expenses were really steep for us.)

I ended up using Dr. Szirt in Randwick, and from the moment I walked into his office and met his lovely receptionist, I knew I was in good hands. He is incredibly laid-back, obsessed with drinking coca-cola and very chatty. He is also very, very experienced and a "says it as it is" sort of a bloke.

He was the first to mention the Prince of Wales Private Hospital's Little Luxuries program run at the Crowne Plaza, Coogee. My ears pricked up at once. I'm not really a "luxury" kind of a girl. I don't often spoil myself. But this sounded good. Very very good. I was given a brochure about Little Luxuries but found it didn't really explain the program in much detail. I was told that you get 'selected' for the program based on how healthy you and your bubba are, as well as how you're coping with feeding in general. I doubted I'd be lucky enough to qualify, so didn't hold my breath.

But in the end, my beautiful baby boy was healthy (thank the heavens!) and feeding well, and the program was once again suggested to me. I was eager to get out of the hospital readily accepted, but even then, I had no idea what the program was all about.

I thought I'd summarise the experience for those of you who are considering it. It's definitely not for everyone, and I would not be encouraging any first-time mums to try it. Generally speaking, you're left on your own to bond with the baby uninterrupted. That can be quite daunting for new mums, especially those who are struggling with breast feeding, want to attend the classes that the hospitals offer, or generally want the comfort of someone always popping their head in to check on you.

Here's what you need to know:

> There are seven 'spots' available, and one midwife on duty 24/7.

> You are checked out of hospital with your baby's blue book and a handover pack from your POW midwife to give to your Crowne Plaza midwife

> Your partner can stay with you if you so wish

> There is a limo service apparently, but it wasn't offered to me. I suggest you have your partner ready to drive you there, as there's no way that the hospital staff will allow you to walk by yourself!

> Every room faces the ocean and has floor-to-wall views of the sea and horizon. Incredible.

> Every room has a bassinet, king-sized bed, feeding chair and colossal TV

> There really aren't enough towels in the room compared to what you'd get in hospital. If you're like me you'll feel anxious about getting the towels bloody, vomity, or 'general-body-fluidy' following your operation and the arrival of your brand-new upchuck baby. I would recommend you ask - upon checkin - for some extra towels to be delivered to the room

> Midwives call you once or twice a day to see if you need anything but otherwise leave you on your own. They'll pop in to check blood pressure and your wound (if you have had a c-section) and offer feeding assistance if you need. They don't take your baby away so you can get a break as they do in hospital. They simply don't have the capacity to do so as they need to be available to all other mothers on the floor

> Midwives are absolutely lovely. Just thought you'd want to know!

> Your important checks for baby (eg newborn screening test, hearing test etc) are all done in hospital.

> Your meals are all-inclusive at the Crowne, and the menu is ah-mazing! Honestly, I was in foodie heaven at the Crowne Plaza, eating sirloin steaks and gorgeous salads, and fresh pastries and fruit. The food in itself is reason enough to be begging to get to the hotel!

I'm so glad that I was lucky enough to have this option available to me. But I definitely wouldn't recommend it for new mums, or mums who are needing a little more support. In both cases, the hospital is your best bet as you'll be assured dedicated care. For me, the Crowne Plaza experience was an opportunity for some peace and quiet before returning home to a hyper 3 year old. It was heaven!


Jess Paterson - www.stresslessjess.com.au Guest blogger