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Private or Public (the great debate) - as seen on webchild

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At we discuss a lot of different issues relating to parenting and we have decided to debate one of the most contentious parenting decisions especially for dads, whether to go public or private.

Private all the way - Bucky

For most, having a child is the most wonderful thing that will ever happen to you. It’s an incredibly personal event that is shared between the mother, father and perhaps other siblings. The day your child is born is special in so many ways, as are the days that follow when you forge the tightest of bonds with your new baby, and strengthen the bond with your partner and family.

Now picture this – you have been through an epic journey as a couple. The labour was difficult but at the end of the journey an ecstatic and healthy mother is nursing her beautiful new baby boy or girl for the first time. It’s a moment that you’ve been waiting nine months for, perhaps longer, and it’s a moment you simply don’t want to end. You hold the hand of your partner, thinking, how is it possible that this bond between us is stronger, yet it is. It’s simply one of the greatest moments of your life that you want to savour forever. Hand-in-hand with your partner a midwife leads you to your bed for the night. Gee, it’s been a long couple of days and you’re looking forward to two or three hours of solid sleep. As you’re led down the corridor towards your room you hear laughter, tears of joy, many people exchanging congratulations. Everyone is so happy it’s such a beautiful environment to be in. As you approach your room the midwife stops outside the door and asks you to wait for a minute. She opens the door and laughter bursts out of the room like fireworks on New Years Eve. Three young kids ride the fireworks out the door closely followed by Nona who drags them back into the room, apologising on the way. Behind you two couples await with flowers and presents in hand. They’re in a hurry and push past you, apologising to the midwife as she cops an errant elbow in the breast. Feeling some discomfort, the midwife leads you into the room which you’re sharing with a couple who have just had their first born. As you listen to the proud new parents recount their story of how straightforward the birth was, to 17 people, you look lovingly into your partner’s eyes. Unfortunately there are no seats left so the proud dad is left standing at the edge of the bed. Meanwhile, four teenagers attending your roommate’s party are texting each other on their iPhones, sharing two chairs between them. With incessant tears of joy that never stops, accompanied by a faint wailing and a nose whistle, Nona next door keeps dropping her tissues into your rubbish bin. Little Johnny starts screaming because his cousin was allowed to eat the Arnotts Biscuits two packet that every new mother gets free of charge.

Visiting hours come to a close and the last reveller finally leaves the get together next door. You close your eyes, as the new mother in the next bed takes a call on her mobile. You eventually drift off to sleep, her ring tone front of mind “…total eclipse of the heart…” and her conversation ringing in your ears “Of course I’ll be playing tennis next Wednesday, what do you think I am, soft or something?”.  The last thing you remember thinking to yourself was “Why did I choose to go public?”


Childbirth is an amazingly personal and private time which you share with the people you love. You need to make the most of it because the moment doesn’t last forever, it slowly fades away. The most important time is definitely the first few days after child birth. The mother needs opportunities to rest and she needs privacy whilst she bonds with her child. What if you’re one of the many to have difficulties breast feeding? What if you need extra special attention from the midwife just learning how to wrap your precious newborn or change a nappy? You need privacy, you deserve privacy. Go private - especially for your first born, it’s worth it!!

Publics just fine with me - Chubba

Whether to go public or private when having a baby is a long standing debate that will seemingly go on for some time to come. I am going to try and provide my thoughts on this debate, however before I begin I have to declare that I am biased as I have not used the private system before and probably never will.

Like most couples, when we started thinking of having a baby Wife A and I did a fair bit of research. To be honest I thought that the private system would be the best solution as I wanted to give Wife A the best possible baby delivering conditions.  I thought about how footy teams always put some of their success down to having the best facilities. I wanted to bring my baby into the world within the lush surrounds of a private room.

After several long discussions we made our decision to go public.  Our decision was down to two major factors; Firstly, we couldn’t at that time really afford the extra expense of private health insurance and the prospect of a bill at the end of the hospital stay didn’t really excite me either.

Secondly, we wanted to start trying for a baby straight away. As we didn’t have private health insurance we would have had to wait for at least 4-6 months before getting it on. I couldn’t wait, I was a man on a mission.

So with the decision made we started our public experience and at no point have we regretted our choice.

Of course there are a few drawbacks with public, however with a glass half full approach anyone can start to change their views on these.

The obvious one is the waiting, and when I say waiting I must qualify this by saying that there is always a wait to see anyone or do anything, and sometimes along the way we have had a much longer wait. I think 5 hours was our record. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. It gave us some time (a lot of time actually) to reflect on the pregnancy, plan out what the nursery would look like (with a little help from the 1987 Home Beautiful magazine in the waiting area) and work out our dinner plans, change our dinner plans and work them out again. I also got an excuse to watch 2 hours of Kerri-Anne.  See, waiting isn’t all that bad.

The second drawback is your partner may have to share a room, although this is not always the case anymore. Our local public hospital has single rooms with double beds etc.  Unfortunately for wife A she ended up having  a caesarean and ended up in a shared room.    

However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom, for starters Wife A learnt a lot from her roomies. She learnt how big she wanted her family to become, probably when the family with 4 kids from the woman in the bed next door came in to visit. I think we’ll stop at two we decided as the 7 year old head appeared under the privacy curtain. Wife A also claimed to have learnt how to swear in about 5 different languages.

Also there is the myth that if you are in a private room that you will get more sleep and hopefully spend some quality time with your partner and baby. Baby X hardly slept at all whilst in hospital and neither did mum as a result, this wasn’t conditional on sharing a room. As for quality time, you could be on the moon and only have eyes for your precious new bundle of joy.

Then there is the fact that in a shared room it’s pretty hard for the dad to hang around all night. Not bad for me to be honest, I got to have my last couple of good nights sleeps and recoup from all the stresses of the previous few days. I didn’t feel like I missed out at all, in fact most days I was in at the crack of dawn to see Baby X, and of course Wife A, and join in on all the parenting fun.

 Thirdly looking at the statistics, and we at hate to look, you don’t get to spend as long in hospital in the public system before you are sent home to parent on your own as you do in the private system. I know from our perspective Wife A was busting to get back to the familiar surrounds of our house and start our family life together. Of course the good thing about spending longer in hospital is you get to sample the rest of the lunch and dinner menus, yummy I can taste the microwaved roast veal now, mouth watering indeed.

I will finish my exploration of the benefits of using the public system to deliver our children on a serious note. Whilst the public system has its moments, speaking from  experience, if you have any sort of complication throughout your pregnancy and/or birth you receive first rate care with nothing but the welfare of your partner and child as the priority in the public system and knowing this you learn to enjoy its idiosyncrasies.


One thing we both agree on is that ultimately the decision is for the couple to make together and we are sure that whatever you decide the experience will be amazing.

This article was written for

Last modified on Sunday, 05 February 2012 20:29

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