Go Private or Public? An Irish Mammy’s Dilemma.

This mum sets out the pros and cons in her opinion

I am a Mam of two who ‘went private’ as we say, with two girls. It was not easy. Saving, scrimping and lots of bewildering chats about how we were going to ‘pay for the baby’ ensued but this is what we did.  I have reasons for our choice. We are not rich by any means. These decisions were hard. I hope to air what I have learned and share it here. Bear with me as I outline the differences (as I know it) of private and public care in our maternity wards.
I ‘went private’ with baby one, like so many do, if they can. It was our mutual choice as it was our first and we were nervous. However, we had trouble. Our gynie made an error. He did not spot an issue my child had in ANY scan. When my girl was born, she was in a hospital as normal for a few days, had the ‘checks’ by various professionals and we were sent home. No one spotted anything.
We were sent home with a VERY sick child. One week later we were in Crumlin having a serious operation. She has recovered and we are extremely blessed and lucky as it is like it never occurred. I will write about the condition again, as I want to focus on the debate at hand, just know it is rare and it is very unlikely it will happen to you. It also should be detected early. Yes, my gynie should have seen it. It is not hereditary.
Pregnancy two happened when my first was just one year old.  Massive decision. Public or Private? Hospital? Gynie…?
On doctor’s advice we ‘went private’ again. After a lot of discussion, we had the same hospital. We changed gynie. Obviously.
This is how I have had two private experiences. Thereby I want to make an outline of pros and cons as I know it, having loosely told you my experience, of what are the choices, and from many discussions with friends and family who had both experiences.
This is the big pro for private as we all see it. Detailed scans and pretty pictures to take home are usually on offer at all meetings. Yes, I loved it with my first. However, all these scans DID NOT show the problems my child had whereas my friend had a child who ‘went public’ and a small problem was highlighted immediately. I know that finding the problem does not fix it, but preparation and knowledge are powerful and at least they knew they had hospital time coming. We were hit for six and this brings its own problems. Both systems are equal here as far as I am concerned.
A private experience may (not always) mean you don’t share a room and you might have your own toilet and shower. The comfort is good, certainly. I think however that a negative is loneliness. Anyone I know who ‘went public’ made mates with other mothers, shared worries and woes and generally felt united in companionship in their public ward. A negative would be the decisions to open windows, turn on TVs, noisy visitors, but hey. We are grown-ups and this is only for a few days. We can surely compromise.
I will say your own room is nice at times, especially if you are having toilet trouble, or ‘windy’ moments!
Private is RIDCIULOUSLY expensive. You may not even have the specialist that you are ‘under’ at the delivery. I didn’t on both occasions. Just think. They HAVE to help you have the baby. I truly don’t believe morals can allow them give you different care! This is definitely a pro- public argument.
There is the constant whine of ‘you will be waiting all day’ for an appointment if you are on a public list. Just let me say one thing. I have waited in public waiting rooms on many occasions for other experiences in my life and the sitting down doesn’t change regardless of a cushioned seat. For both my ‘private’ gynies, we waited. The first guy’s wait time wasn’t too bad. The second’s however was desperate. I waited for four hours once. It is a small, windowless waiting alcove, not enough chairs when it starts to back up, and becomes increasingly airless fast. Add ten pregnant ladies and you can imagine the feeling. His wait time was awful. No difference despite the cash. Add also a secretary with a precarious ‘next’ policy and tension ensues. We once got talking as a group in the waiting hovel and realised that THREE of us were pencilled in for the SAME appointment. The doctor was nice, but that was about it. Old fashioned in ideology and even a little sexist, I don’t see how we can justify this carry on.
As I said already, they have a moral obligation to treat you to the best of their ability. It is their duty regardless of the ‘public/private’ title. I know though, that in your hearts of hearts, our Irish way of thinking makes us believe that private care is somehow ‘better’. I can just say that the irony of this crooked way of thinking sits with me every day. We had a private first birth. We had trouble. We were angry. We also were told, so many times, weren’t we glad we went private, just because we would never ask that question and blame ourselves. We were comforted by that point, as tragic as it is.                     
Our second private birth was overshadowed by my cynicism.
I hated paying that money to a man down the corridor from the one who made mistakes. I also did not fully respect my second doctor as a professional, even though I think both doctors are nice people in the ordinary, non-medical world. How secure did I feel? Well, I made bloody sure I felt secure. The hospital (probably a bit wary of me at this stage, Mama Bear had her claws out!) let me have as many of those fancy, extra-detailed scans as I requested in the EPU. I had four, one right before the birth. This is where ‘private’ worked for me. My second baby had several scans immediately after birth to ensure her health. The nurses told me I had them so fast because I was private. I don’t know how true that is, but it is what happened.
To summarise, public and private have few differences.
You will have a hole in your pocket if you are private, yet you might be glad of a few extra scans. You are paying a lot however for the potential of your own toilet and privacy. Both systems will get you excellent professionals. You may as a public patient, have the delivery carried out by the very doctor that the private patient paid €3,000 to, but they might not have him/her at all, as baby arrived on Saturday night and it is a golfing weekend with the lads. (Apologies for the bitterness).
Neither system has enough female doctors for maternity.
The nurses and midwives do all the work in both worlds. I wanted to take the cheque and hand it to the midwife who delivered my second. She was fabulous and I have had no complications from it.
There you have it. I have no answer, just a lot of discussion points, and I admit, all from a slightly biased viewpoint. I hope you got something from my rambles…
Writen by Orla, who is in her thirties (much to her disbelief), married to a handsome farmer and they have two beautiful little girls. She blogs at www.fancypaperblog.wordpress.comwhere you can visit to read her other musings!

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