We finally had our first appointment with Dr Citra at NUH last Thursday. I was nervous, as if it was my first time meeting a gynae. But it all went well and it was a pleasant experience overall, alhamdulillah. Since we have been seeing Dr Lubna at PEH before this, I thought it would good for me to write this post to compare a private hospital and govt hospital, in terms of prenatal visits and a few things I take into consideration before choosing where I want to give birth at.
PEH is a smaller and more cosy hospital, and is not very busy. So it feels kind of more relaxing and has a more exclusive feel to it. But parking is very limited. Not that we drive anyway, but this is something couples may want to consider when they come to give birth here. Also, the fact that PEH is smaller also means that it does not have a lot of amenities or conveniences like shops or even a garden/park, in case labouring mothers want to take a walk there to kill more time before checking into the delivery suite. NUH, is of course better equipped with cafes, gardens/parks and better variety of food outlets for the husbands and other visitors.
Dr L’s clinic at PEH is located at level 3. Because it is a private clinic, each prenatal visit is pretty straightforward. We just go straight there, see the doctor, get our supplements there, and go home when we’re done. The clinic staff will be there to answer our questions and explain the prenatal packages etc on behalf of the doctor. But if we have any questions pertaining to PEH like the delivery charges or prenatal classes, we have to ask the PEH staff at the hospital counter downstairs or refer to the hospital website. The doctor’s clinic and the hospital operates separately in that way.
For NUH, we had to go to the Women’s Clinic Ruby, which took us awhile to navigate to. It seems like this clinic is for private doctors and there is another Women’s Clinic for subsidised patients. But the good thing is, because we were still at a NUH clinic, the staff could explain to us on topics relating to both the doctor and the hospital. Meaning, we were enlightened on both the prenatal packages and delivery charges, which is convenient because we can ask any questions we have from just one source, rather than having to check from separate parties. The staff also provided us with flyers to promote NUH’s prenatal classes and some mental health help/support place, which I was impressed with. But we had to get our supplements from the pharmacy, which is a short walk away from the clinic. Short detour, but not much of an issue.
Also, both clinics at PEH and NUH will always give us this piece of urine test stick to pee on, during every visit. I can’t remember what they are for, was it blood sugar or something like that? Anyway, PEH has only 2 spots to pee on, but NUH has 5/6! I heard the NUH staff mentioning “protein” for one of the test, but I really didn’t catch the rest. So ya, this gave me the impression that NUH is pretty detailed.
Seeing the Doctor
One major difference is that Dr L will scan during every visit. She is also pretty detailed with her scan because she will check every part of my womb, including looking out for any growth/cysts in my ovaries. But NUH doctors will not scan at every visit. There are probably only about 3 scans throughout the whole pregnancy at NUH. But, Dr C did listen to the baby’s heartbeat using the doppler and did a physical examination on my bump. She could determine the position of my baby using her bare hands and even lightly grabbed the baby’s head from outside my tummy! Then he kicked her in return hahahaha oops! There are pros and cons to this because although we don’t get to see the scan of our baby every month at NUH, the visits will be much cheaper as well. For Dr L, every consultation+scan costs $200 before GST for ala carte pricing, excluding supplements. For Dr C, consultation is about $96 (second appt onwards) including GST, excluding supplements. So I guess as long as our pregnancy is progressing well and healthily, it should be okay that we don’t get to see our baby on the scan every month.
In terms of waiting time, Dr L does not have a super long waiting time most of the time. There was only once when I waited almost 2 hours for Dr L, but mostly it was about 30-45min and even 0min at one point of time because there was no one else around. She also takes her time to examine and talk to you, so every visit does not feel rushed at all.
I only met Dr C once and we waited for almost an hour despite coming very early. Also, Dr C talks very fast, which is understandable since she is super popular and has a lot of patients waiting to see her. But then she keeps prompting me for questions and clarifies everything in detail too. We managed to discuss about almost everything I could think of, including my never-ending morning sickness, my medical history, and when I asked about birth plans, she provided us with a NUH birth plan template. I brought along my draft birth plan, and since bf took it out, she even went through it with us and told us that most of the things in our birth plan are okay. But since it’s still quite early, she assured us that we can go through it again at a later date.
Overall, I would say both doctors are very friendly, approachable and detailed. Brownie points for them too because both gives salam (assalamualaikum) and offers a salam (handshake) at the start of every visit lol.
Discussing my medical history
I used to have scoliosis, and did a corrective surgery back in 2007 which includes metal implants of 2 titanium rods and 16 screws in my spine. Due to this, I must inform my doctors and I would also like to check if epidural is possible or not. As much as possible, I don’t want to take epidural but I am not 110% confident that I would be able to say no if it was offered to me, so I wanted to know if it’s even possible, just in case! So I brought my spinal x-rays to both doctors so that they could have a look at where exactly my implants are, and whether they happen to be where the epidural is typically injected. Both doctors said that I need to discuss it with an anaesthetist. But Dr L kept saying she is not sure which location of the spine the epidural will be injected even though I roughly know where. More like she refused to admit that she knows. At least Dr C could tell me that the epidural will usually be injected at the lower part of the spine, which is way below where my implants are. I was quite relieved to hear it, and she even offered to set up an appointment with the anaesthetist for me to confirm it. But since she said that we could also check with the anaesthetist on the day of the delivery itself, I rejected the offer so that we don’t have to pay consultation fees now when we can just meet him/her on the day itself. Part of me regretted rejecting the offer to meet the anaesthetist, but I was honestly scared that if I found out that epidural was possible, I would betray myself and end up taking it. Urgh the dilemma and the suspense!
After discussing with bf and weighing the pros and cons, we eventually decided that we are going to continue to see Dr C and give birth at NUH, although it is much further from our house. The bulk of our reasoning comes from the multiple good reviews of Dr C and NUH and their reputation of being good advocates for natural birth and for their good service. Of course, anything could happen on the day of the delivery itself. Emergency C-sect would probably be the worst case scenario. But we gotta tawakkal. If everything goes well, then we think that NUH would be a better choice for us to give birth in, insyaAllah.