To be born in the lap of luxury

New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS): Who doesn't want to bring up his child in a cocoon of comfort? Little Lavanya's parents, however, decided to take this a step further and ensured their first born came into the world in a lap of luxury - literally.

So even as she was still in her mother's womb, the hospital sent a luxury car to pick them up, they were treated with all five-star facilities in the LDR suite and Lavanya was born with Vedic music playing softly in the background - as asked for by her mom.

LDR, or Labour-Delivery-Recovery suites are nothing short of a high-end hotel or resort facility with all comforts at the press of a button. The idea that expectant mothers should be pampered during one of the most important times of her life, childbirth, has caught the people's fancy, and LDRs are therefore becoming popular with most well-known private hospitals offering such facilities.

Apollo Hospital, for instance, has Cradle, a premium birthing centre.

"At Cradle, the main idea is that a woman should be able to deliver her baby in an environment of comfort. Therefore, we have a dedicated and compassionate team of doctors, gynaecologists, paediatricians and nurses who offer personalised care for the mother and the child. And, of course, there are other facilities too," Sudhir Diggikar, director of the Secondary Care Services at Apollo Hospital, told IANS.

The "facilities" are in no way to be undermined. As the name suggests, the LDR suites are where a woman remains from the time of admission to her discharge and unless it's a Caesarean, the delivery also takes place there. To start the celebration process, a baby shower is thrown for the expectant mother, complete with all the frills.

"We encourage the father to be a part of the delivery process," Diggikar said. "As for the mother, we ask her if she would want any music to be played during the delivery. Music is soothing and keeps her mind occupied. Some women prefer Vedic music or religious hymns; others want instrumental or western music."

After birth, a portrait of the newborn with his or her parents is presented to the family and the mother is given a special gift hamper. The new moms also have counselling sessions with dieticians and on how to deal with post-partum blues. After discharge, the family is driven home in a luxury car with a plaque card that reads Just Delivered Joy!

The choice of music is also given at the LDR suites in Fortis La Femme. But there's more to the pampering.

"Apart from all the facilities, like an LCD TV in the room, a music system, and a kitchenette, we also have on-call beauty attendants for the expecting and new mothers. So if a woman wants a massage, or waxing to be done, all she has to do is to press the button," Anita Gupta of Fortis La Femme told IANS. Post-delivery, most new moms ask for a pedicure or a massage in the comfort of their suite.

The room also has a remote-controlled bed that converts into a reclining chair for the delivery.

At Columbia Asia Hospital, a special Columbia Venus programme goes nine months back - right from pre-conception counselling - all the way to ante-natal care and post-natal services, thus standing by its motto, "With you the whole nine months and beyond". The programme also offers ante-natal counselling for the mother and the family.

In addition, the special birthing centre has all the facilities, including a baby warmer where the child can be kept after delivery and a separate enclosure for the family to ensure that "a new mother is treated like a guest, and not a patient".

According to doctors, there are three main reasons for the rising popularity of such premium birthing centres - personalised care from experts, hygiene, and, of course, comfort.

"We were the first to start such a concept in India, back in 2001-2002, and then only the upper-class couples explored the option. But now the clientele has broadened to include the upper-middle class as well," Diggikar said, adding that while there are at present five Cradles in India, 25 are being planned in the next three years.

"The clientele mostly includes couples who have migrated from their home state and are therefore by themselves during childbirth, young working mothers who want to be pampered, and foreign returned couples who want the best facility," he added.

For a three-day stay, an LDR suite package approximately costs Rs.90,000-100,000 at Cradle. The costs are similar in other facilities.

"The cost difference between a regular room and the LDR suite we opted for, including the room charge and doctor's fee, was about Rs.8,000 which we felt was not much considering the importance of this phase in our lives," said Ravi Bajaj, a young marketing executive and a first-time father. "My wife and I want the absolute best for Lavanya, and this was the perfect way to start," he smiled.


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