Advice to Those Giving Birth at Mount Auburn Hospital

I started this post shortly after bringing my first child, Patrick Tibbetts, home from Mount Auburn Hospital. Now he is nearly eight months old, and I am finally getting around to posting it. In the interim, I have shared this advice verbally with several friends. I’ll keep it short, just three pieces of advice that I wish we had known.

For those of you that don’t know, Mount Auburn Hospital is in Cambridge, near Harvard, and is the preferred full-service birth hospital in the Cambridge/Arlington/Somerville/Belmont area. Their Bain Birthing Center is very progressive for a hospital-based center. Unfortunately it is a bit dated, which comes from having adopted many of the now-trendy features of birthing centers (big labor and delivery rooms, wood floors, real furniture, bathtubs, etc) early.

  1. For birth partners (e.g. me) my first recommendation is to wear the most comfortable shoes you own, with good socks, and bring extra socks. This applies no matter where you are giving birth. The process can take a long time, and you are going to be standing or squatting or walking around with your wife the whole time. Everyone will be helping her to find comfortable positions for her and the baby. Your comfort will be somewhat less than an afterthought. Changing your socks is a good way to make yourself feel better after you’ve been on your feet for 10 hours.
  2. Order food early and often. The kitchen at Mount Auburn is great. And meals for not only the mother but also her partner are included with the room. The food is great and they are very flexible about when you order things. The only problem is that the kitchen is only open 7am to 6:30pm. You will be on some night-shifted schedule and the kitchen will close before you know it. The best way to deal is to order more food than you will likely require and hang onto it until you are hungry. This also means that if you transfer to the postpartum ward after 6:30pm you will be unable to get real food until the next morning (there are some limited snacks in the postpartum kitchen). So I also recommend that you program a local food delivery place into your phone ahead of time.
  3. Bring an eye mask. As previously noted, you will be really tired and on some crazy not-sleep schedule when you transfer to the postpartum ward. Unlike labor and delivery, at Mount Auburn these rooms do not have blackout curtains. If you want to sleep during the day, a good sleep mask is a must.

Obviously the comfortable shoes advice applies regardless of where you are giving birth. The other two issues are more peculiar to Mount Auburn, and really related to limitations of their facilities. If anyone from Mount Auburn is reading, I would recommend that you look into installing blackout curtains in the postpartum ward, and that you consider having a volunteer prepare a book of takeout menus to make available when people transfer after the kitchen has closed. Keeping the kitchen open 24-hours would be ideal, but I can see how that might be prohibitive.

These are of course all minor inconveniences. I cannot recommend Mount Auburn enough. Dr. Beth Hardiman is amazing, as is Arianna Stein, the midwife she works with. I also recommend our doula, Cynthia Maloney. Everyone was very helpful, and the whole process went as smoothly as I could have hoped.


  1. Camilla says:

    My experience with the food there was that I had to remember that most items are portion controlled, so it’s important to order far more items per meal than would seem reasonable in a restaurant (for lunch and dinner, at least one item from every category on the menu). Just ordering french toast and bacon won’t get you a reasonable breakfast, you need to order bacon and sausage and pancakes and eggs and toast and grits, etc. or else be specific that you need three or four orders of french toast on one tray.

    Oddly, however, french fries come in huge buckets, and you just need to make sure to ask for the ketchup.

    (I think the postpartum ward needs a flag for meal service that says “don’t put less than 900 calories on any of my meal trays”.)

  2. Susan says:

    Heh. We also noticed that at dinner, at least one item would be randomly omitted from each tray — from a fruit cup to a hamburger. We were ordering at 6:25 both days, which is not really wise. We’d heard and taken Camilla’s advice, though, so nobody starved.