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Now without further ado, I will share my experience of the tour of the maternity ward at The Cuban Hospital in Qatar.
Firstly, the hospital is part of Hamad Medical Corporation, so it’s a government hospital and based in Dukhan which is the other side of the country from Doha. It takes roughly an hour down one straight road on the Dukhan express way. To visit any HMC hospital you need to have a Hamad Health Card and your Qatar ID. The health card can be obtained from one of the Primary Health Care Corporation centres across the country. When you arrive go to the main reception and they will give you directions to the maternity ward located on the first floor.
Upon arrival, we were taken to the maternity ward and one of the nurses shared some general information about the ward in addition to answering the many questions I was firing at her.
The nurse explained the following:
- There are six single rooms available however they are usually full. In a single room you ARE permitted to have your husband with you. Single rooms have a chair that opens into a single bed if your husband stays overnight.
- They also have double rooms available. In a double room, you may have a female accompany you, however, husbands are generally NOT permitted. The nurse did later add that it depends on who the other patient is as to whether or not you will be allowed to have your husband stay with you. If you do manage to have your husband stay there is no space for him to sleep just a single chair.
- The hospital is able to deliver babies after 34 weeks but not premature babies born at an earlier period of gestation.
- They have an NICU.
- There are two canteens on the ground floor where your husband can get something to eat (remember Duhkan is the other side of the country so aside from Macdonalds and a few shops there is not much choice down there).
Information Regarding Labour and Delivery
One question that seems to always be a hot topic in Doha is: will they respect my birth plan?
In short yes. However, it may depend on the team who are working when you arrive at the hospital to deliver as to whether or not all of your needs or wishes will be accommodated. If you already have an OBGYN at The Cuban Hospital, and they are on duty when you deliver they will follow your birth plan as far as medically possible. Should you see a different doctor then you discuss your birth plan with them and again they will try and accommodate you as much as they possibly can.
What are my pain relief options?
You can choose either gas and air or an epidural but not both you can only have one or the other.
Is the epidural mobile?
Will I be able to have skin to skin contact with my baby?
Yes, if everything with you and baby is okay. With a C Section you will be sent to a recovery room, however, the father will be able to have baby with him if you wish.
Will formula milk be given to my baby?
Only at your request or if you have a C Section and are in the recovery room for some time.
Do you have a lactation consultant?
No, but they do have someone to oversee breastfeeding at the hospital.
Can my husband be present during a C Section?
I liked the hospital a lot and it was much less crowded than other HMC hospitals. While the facilities etc look fine, I think this hospital will remain my back up choice rather than my first for several reasons.
The first being that while the general belief is that your husband can stay with you at the hospital this is not entirely true and depends on the rooms available and who the occupants are. Your husband can be with you for delivery but after this you are moved back to your room. If I’m not in a fit state after delivery to ask questions then I will rely on my husband to think and talk for me, however, without him I would feel vulnerable. I also got the impression that whether or not your husband is allowed into a shared room would also heavily depend on the staff on duty. His potential absence is a great concern and something I don’t really want to play luck of the draw with.
I was concerned when the nurse mentioned that formula milk is given to babies if you have a C Section and find yourself in the recovery room for some time. Under no circumstances do I want Baby Girl to be given formula. It’s just not my choice. I know women who have shared experiences in both private and public healthcare that say sometimes there is a risk sometimes babies are fed formula without the mother’s consent.
If you are trying to decide where to deliver your baby in Qatar, then I would definitely suggest going and taking a look at The Cuban Hospital. Be prepared with a list of questions and the staff will be more than happy to respond. You don’t need to book, and you can go anytime between 7am and 9pm. On the Positive Birth Group Doha Facebook page there are lots of women who have shared their labour and delivery experiences at The Cuban Hospital and it is definitely worthwhile reading through them.
After my visit, I realised that there are so many more things I could have asked. As I talk to other expectant mums (I have one amazing group and they know who they are) I learn lots of new things that I need to consider for my labour and delivery. So definitely talk to others, especially women who already have children and see what ideas you get from them. One thing I do know is that I want the most natural birth possible.
No matter where you are in the world every woman prepares for the same thing and has the same decisions to make. Whether you are here in Qatar or elsewhere I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions and stories for labour and delivery. What were your biggest worries? Did the hospital follow your birth plan? What do you wish you had asked but didn’t? Leave you comments below!