The sweetness of that moment seems to linger, and time seems to slow for a brief moment……………then, time flies and we are talking about labor, birth, a birth plan, the benefits of delayed cord clamping, setting up a postpartum support network and reviewing directions to labor and delivery at the megaplex of Barnes-Jewish Hospital (BJH)!
Understandably, my patients often have many questions (and often misconceptions) about the hospital where they will deliver. Among other things, they ask about the labor and delivery rooms, the birthing beds, and options for pain management. Giving birth is an unparalleled special event in a woman’s life, and today’s patients want to know that where they will experience that moment will not only offer them the best medical care, but also a level of comfort that optimizes the experience for themselves and their loved ones who are supporting them.
We are thrilled that it will soon be a much briefer and simpler discussion about how to get to the labor and delivery department at BJH, and that we will be describing a brand-new and absolutely beautiful state-of-the-art maternity ward. Starting in mid-2017, BJH will open two new bed towers that will connect labor and delivery at BJH to the St. Louis Children's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The Women & Infants Program will feature all private beds including 52 obstetrics beds; 18 labor and delivery rooms; a 12-room women’s assessment center; and three cesarean section rooms.
Plans for this facility have been in the works for a long time, and my partners and I eagerly went on a recent preview tour of the new space. Walking through the new ward, I kept thinking to myself, “Our patients are going to LOVE this!” Shoot, I love it! The layout and signage will make it very easy for patients and families to navigate, and the rooms are large with lovely wood accents and warm colors. The windows are huge, allowing beautiful views onto the park and gardens, but they are also equipped with modern shades to control the light to optimize rest when desired (since we all know labor can take a while and birthing pays no attention to the time of day!). The bathrooms are large, and I easily imagined one of my patients rocking on a birthing ball in the large walk-in shower, with multiple shower heads raining warm water onto her aching back. The operating rooms and postpartum units reflect the Baby Friendly status of the hospital and are designed to facilitate maximal bonding in our mom-baby dyads. Mothers-to-be can rest at ease knowing that the grandparents in the waiting room are enjoying a comfortable area with access to refreshments.
Although most of our patients’ babies do not require admission to a neonatal intensive care program, I love delivering babies at BJH in part because it is so close to St. Louis Children’s Hospital and the best neonatal team in the region is only steps away; and now, they will be even fewer steps away. Since Labor and Delivery will be co-located with the St. Louis Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), mothers will have immediate access to their newborns who received either anticipated or unanticipated intensive care.
I can’t wait to start telling patients that they will get to deliver in the new facility! The 40-week nature of pregnancy means we will soon be meeting one another and starting the journey to that birth, where I know the labor and delivery experience will be enhanced by all of the detailed considerations that have gone into the Women & Infants Program at BJH. Exploring the construction area was great fun, but I think I’ll leave my hard hat behind next time and just enjoy my familiar and cherished role assisting moms as their OB-GYN!
Rosanna Gray-Swain, MD, is a member of BJC Medical Group and a part of the West End OB-GYN practice. The practice is located at 1110 Highlands Plaza, Suite 280, St. Louis, MO and can be reached at 314-286-2620. Dr. Gray-Swain is accepting new patients, so BOOK today!