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Providing the Best Birth Experience Possible

September 14, 2018 1:45 p.m.

  • Hollie and Jeremiah Angell and their daughter, Mackenzie.

  • Every room is equipped with an electronic white board that team members use to track the health of both babies and mothers.

As obstetrical care has evolved significantly over the last decade, so has the Sarah Bush Lincoln Women and Children’s Center. Significant change has enabled its staff to deliver the best possible healthcare to area families, while simultaneously meeting new parents’ expectations for “creature comforts” at the time of their babies’ deliveries.

A total remodel of the Women and Children’s Center was completed in 2018. While the new floor allows every mother to have a private room with a spa-like feel (the use of essential oils during delivery and access to Bluetooth speakers are among the amenities), planning for safety was of utmost importance in the remodel. 

To that end, every room is equipped with an electronic white board that team members use to track the health of both mothers and babies. When staff members enter patients’ rooms, their names and photos from their ID badges populate the white boards. “Our new electronic white boards not only make it easier for our staff to provide excellent personalized care, but they serve as an added safety measure and empower patients to play a role in their own healthcare,” said Cindy Rivas, director of the SBL Women and Children’s Center.

Additional steps were taken to ensure that women have a pleasant birth experience in any situation. While the cesarean section rate at SBL has decreased substantially over the last 10 years, some mothers still have the procedure because it’s best for their health or their baby’s. It’s not uncommon for mothers to experience sadness or loss over not having had a traditional birth experience, however. One way the SBL Women & Children’s Center helps mothers cope with disappointment resulting from cesarean section is by providing family viewing drapes during uncomplicated, scheduled C-sections. Parents can request clear drapes through which they can see their babies being born. Parents can also take still photography during the birth process. 

“Our new cesarean section policies allow families who want to be active participants in the birthing process to be closer to the process during that moment when the baby enters the world,” Rivas said. “Unexpected cesarean sections can lead to feelings of disappointment, so this provides a unique birth experience that can help combat those feelings.”

Another evolution in the birthing experience happens during what researchers call “the golden hour.” During the first hour of life, mothers are encouraged to hold their babies skin-to-skin as soon as medical staff has assessed the baby. This can help newborns adjust to life outside of the womb and to help increase the success of breastfeeding. Mothers who deliver at SBL are encouraged to have no loss of contact with their infants for either the first hour or until the first feeding is complete. This also applies to mothers who have had a cesarean section. “This immediate touch from mom helps improve bonding and healing in both the mother and the baby,” Rivas said. “The benefits of skin-to-skin contact can’t be overstated.”

Rivas noted that some babies are born with elevated bilirubin levels, a condition that can lead to jaundice (yellowed skin and eyes) and even brain damage, if left untreated. In the past, the only option for babies who had elevated bilirubin levels was to spend time in a bassinet with a ‘bili light.’ The special blue lights deliver phototherapy to combat jaundice, but the treatment can reduce bonding opportunities through touch and holding during the first week of life since infants are confined to the bassinet for several hours each day.

The SBL Women and Children’s Center now offers families the option of a biliblanket for jaundiced infants. The blanket houses fiber-optic cables inside light-permeable fabric that deliver the same life-saving phototherapy as the bassinet, but parents are able to hold, feed and bond with their infants during the treatment.

And what new mother doesn’t want access to a nurse 24/7? The SBL Women and Children’s Center delivers! To begin, each expectant mother receives a call from the nursing staff to discuss the admission process prior to her arrival. The nurse answers questions about surgery, diet and packing, and responds to any other concerns from family members. At delivery, the same nurses follow the family until discharge: one for mom and one for baby. “Our nurses are engaged in their jobs and are passionate about providing excellent care,” Rivas said. “We want women in our community to have the best labor and birth experiences possible.” 

For more information about the SBL Women & Children's Center, call 217 258-2297.