St. Luke’s is widely known in the Philippines for being one of the best, not to mention one of the most expensive, hospitals. I claim to be peso savvy, and so you may ask why I chose to give birth there. Let me clarify that when I say I am peso savvy, I do not mean to say that I am a cheapskate. I do my best to make wise monetary decisions in order to get the most bang for my buck. I don’t always pick the cheapest option, but I strive to get my money’s worth. And so now you may ask, was St. Luke’s worth our hard-earned cash? I hope to answer that in this post, wherein I enumerate the best and worst parts of my St. Luke’s experience.
1. The hospital is clean, bright, and airy. Many public and some private hospitals have worn-down facades and dark halls that carry the stench of sickness. St. Luke’s is the opposite. The hospital makes me feel at ease.
2. You are not confined to hospital food. There are nice restaurants inside the hospital, such as Bizu, Via Mare, and Mary Grace. There are also many restaurants within walking distance, as the hospital is inside BGC.
3. They allow companions to be with you during labor. This was non-negotiable for me, because I wanted my husband to be my partner in birthing our son. We attended Lamaze classes, and he was the one who coached me through all the breathing techniques.
4. The rooms are more spacious. I’ve been to rooms in other private hospitals of a similar price point (Makati Med and The Medical City). The rooms in St. Luke’s BGC are relatively bigger. This was also important for me because I didn’t want my visitors to feel cramped. We got a Deluxe Private (because the dadzilla wanted a La-Z-Boy). Haha. But even their smallest room, the Small Private, may suffice.
5. They comply with the Milk Code and Unang Yakap. They also room in healthy babies with their mothers. This was another non-negotiable item for me, as I wanted to pursue exclusive breastfeeding with Wolf. I have heard stories of nurses in other hospitals giving formula to newborns while the mothers recovered from c sections, a practice that severely undermines breastfeeding success.
6. Most of the doctors and nurses were very attentive and caring. In particular, my ob gyne, Dr. Angela Aguilar, was so patient and supportive of my desire to deliver normally. Even when she told me that I would have to deliver via c section, I really felt that she did her best to try for normal. She waited until the very last moment and exhausted other options to encourage descent before declaring the need for a c section. I’d also like to commend the anesthesiologist present during my delivery, Dr. Allan Garcia. He was such a source of comfort to me, even stroking my hair while I was being prepped. I remember how the room was stark bright and the operating table was cold against my skin, and as I shivered in disappointment with myself, I clung to this doctor’s soothing words of encouragement.
1. The restroom in the labor unit was not thoroughly maintained. This was the only restroom with which I had an issue, as the others throughout the hospital were always clean. Unfortunately, the one in the labor unit had a wet floor and a trash can overflowing with tissue. Considering full-term pregnant women are the ones using this restroom, shouldn’t the floor be dry at all times? If a pregnant woman in labor slips while using the restroom, the hospital could surely be sued for that!
2. One of their anesthesiologists was condescending, bordering on rude. Prior to going into labor, I discussed the option of not getting an epidural with my ob gyne. She told me that based on her experience, there are mothers who opt for no epidural and end up too tired to enjoy their newborn. She told me that if my labor progresses quickly, an epidural may not be needed, but if it is long and drawn out, she recommends that I get an epidural. I tried my best to have no epidural administered, but my labor was induced and long (33 hours). At the 24-hour mark, Wolf’s station was not progressing and I was utterly exhausted, so I requested for an epidural. Instead of comforting me, the anesthesiologist who entered our room said mockingly, “Ah, ikaw yung Lamaze dapat” (So you’re the one who supposedly wanted a Lamaze birth). It was like she rubbed salt on an open wound. She made me feel like such a failure. Good thing the residents who attended to me were much kinder. They offered me the comfort I needed.
3. None of their staff discouraged me from using a nipple shield. Although the hospital is pro-breastfeeding in general, their staff did not warn me about nipple shields possibly restricting milk flow, which led to me having problems breastfeeding Wolf in the early weeks.
Comparing the ups and downs of my birth experience, I can say that there is more good than bad. Also, the negative things I noted are for the most part isolated cases and will not be experienced by all. However, the bad parts of my experience are not trivial issues, and I hope that St. Luke’s improves on these aspects in the future. Do I think giving birth at St. Luke’s was worth it? Yes, I do. On the whole, the hospital gave value for money. I can’t say it was a pleasant stay (when is hospital confinement ever pleasant?), but I believe being in St. Luke’s did make my labor, birth, and recovery a bit more comfortable.