Pretty is as pretty does. It’s an old adage my mom used to say but still holds true. An article in the Orlando Sentinel discussed how hospitals have deep pockets regarding providing amenities for maternity patients as a means of soliciting “business.” One hospital spent $112 million dollars on its new all women’s facilities. Its competitor than felt compelled to spend $16 million to refurbish its maternity floors. While flat TV screens, wood floors, granite paneled bathrooms and a masseuse are nice, do these perks add to the quality of obstetrical care?

Make no mistake, ladies, the cost of these amenities will somehow show up on your hospital bill. Elizabeth Cohen, of CNN’s show, The Empowered Patient discussed toothbrushes that cost over $100. And ironically, I ended up on her show discussing my dissatisfaction of having to pay over $800 for a $167 disposable pair of forceps during my own surgical procedure.

While it is nice to give birth in a comfortable atmosphere, the quality of care is equally important. One of my patients was pregnant with her first baby and wanted to deliver at an upscale hospital. I supported her decision because the hospital provides excellent obstetrical care and it also happens to be aesthetically beautiful. My patient worked as a manager, had a picture-perfect prenatal course and had third-party insurance. What could possibly go wrong? The lack of compassion from the admitting physician.

Although she was in the early stages of labor at 3 centimeters and extremely uncomfortable, the physician refused to admit her. His attitude was both condescending and demeaning. My patient was close to tears and her nurse was livid. When she presented to my office, it was obvious that she was uncomfortable. I offered to call the hospital and advocate on her behalf but she wanted no part of them. She requested to be delivered at a less upscale hospital where she was subsequently admitted and treated like a queen. So much for the “resort” environment.

Hospital perks might be great for marketing but they need to be accompanied with quality care and good old-fashioned courtesy.

A healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.