Melbourne, July 28 : Mothers in Australia are now being offered postnatal care in luxury hotels instead of private hospitals, all covered by health insurance.
Sydney's Prince of Wales Private Hospital is the latest to offer such a service, transferring new mothers by limousine to the Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach, where they receive follow up care in dedicated maternity rooms by midwives and supervised by obstetricians.
The service is thought to be modelled on similar five-star maternity scheme offered by the Ashord Hospital at the Adelaide Hilton, to mothers who have uncomplicated vaginal births.
And in Melbourne, St Vincent's and the Mater Private Hospital are reported to have four dedicated rooms at the Park Hyatt.
Mothers will be able to order meals from the hotel's room service menu and husbands will be encouraged to stay.
Visitors will be welcome, and flowers will be automatically redirected to the hotel room. A Prince of Wales Private midwife will be at the hotel 24 hours a day to help mothers and babies, and an obstetrician and a paediatrician will have to sign off on the hotel transfer.
The king-size beds, beach views, bathrobes and extensive menu will be a far cry from the plastic-covered mattresses and overcooked vegetables in a hospital.
A rising birth rate, the growing number of caesarean sections and the closure of maternity units have put pressure on hospitals.
Although, the hotel stays will free up beds, the NSW Midwives Association has questioned whether the move is best for new mothers.
"To me, most women wouldn't want to be going to a hotel if they could be going home and getting appropriate care,'' the Daily Telegraph quoted association secretary Hannah Dahlen, as saying.
However, Australian College of Midwives president Professor Pat Brodie said anecdotal feedback from interstate was that women enjoyed the luxuries of a hotel while having midwifery care.
"Midwives providing post-natal care in a social setting like a hotel would appreciate the opportunity to provide continuity of care, get to know the woman and offer advice and support,'' Brodie said.
"Sometimes that's difficult in busy post-natal wards,'' Brodie said.