If you live in Lancaster County, you’re probably familiar with Women & Babies Hospital. The facility — Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health’s 97-bed specialty hospital and adjoining outpatient center focused completely on the healthcare needs of women and their newborn babies – opened in 2000. Physicians and midwives at Women & Babies deliver more than 4,000 babies each year, more than any other hospital in the county.
We reached out to two representatives from Women & Babies — Michelle Schori, executive director of Women & Pediatrics Service Line, and Alyssa Livengood Waite, director of nursing — to see what’s new for laboring moms, as well as what remains tried-and-true. Among the findings: midwives are very popular and the dozen who practice at Women & Babies deliver the majority of the babies born there.
CPP: What changes or trends have you seen in pain management during labor in recent years?
Alyssa Livengood Waite: Overall, moms-to-be at Women & Babies Hospital have shifted to delivery methods that rely less on epidural medication for pain management. Doulas are welcome as part of a mother’s birth plan, and more patients are choosing this option to support their labor and birth. Additionally, Jacuzzi and whirlpools are available for labor pain and postnatal comfort massage.
We’re currently considering nitrous oxide and other alternative methods for pain management. Massage therapy, which has been a standard comfort for all mothers after their baby’s birth, now may be requested for labor pain management.
CPP: How popular are midwives at your hospital? And how does Women & Babies support women using them?
Waite: Midwives are an integral part of the care team, joining the nursing staff in supporting the birth for mothers who choose this option. Since Women & Babies Hospital opened as a women’s specialty hospital, more expectant mothers have chosen midwives, due to their emphasis on natural birth methods. Twelve Certified Nurse Midwives deliver a majority of the vaginal births at Women & Babies. Obstetricians can manage high-risk and cesarean section births, in addition to vaginal births, and work with mothers to meet their preferred birth plan.
CPP: What are the benefits of having siblings at the hospital? Can you address your creation of Carter’s Corner?
Michelle Schori: Women & Babies Hospital values and supports family-centered care, and the entire family is encouraged to visit mother and baby. We encourage families to include siblings in the first days of their new brother’s or sister’s life.
It is easier for children to process the new addition to their family in short visits, so we provide age-appropriate play activities for siblings. Indoor and outdoor play space is available in Carter’s Corner. We also offer quiet play options, including puzzles, books and art supplies. These active and quiet activities enable siblings to be included in the new mom and baby’s day periodically, while also enjoying playtime with friends or family in Carter’s Corner.
CPP: What about maternal-baby bonding in the hours and days after birth? How has this evolved in recent years?
Waite: Women & Babies Hospital has long recognized the importance of bonding between new parents and their babies. We support skin-to-skin cuddle time after birth, newborn rooming-in with Mom in our couplet care rooms, and successful early feeding for baby. As the first hospital in Pennsylvania to gain the international Baby-Friendly designation [it was awarded the designation by Baby-Friendly USA in July 2014], we enhanced support for those important first days of mother-baby time.
CPP: What is the most surprising trend or development you’ve seen in the field of labor and delivery in recent years?
Schori: One trend we’ve seen recently is expectant parents’ increased knowledge of options related to the type of birth experience they prefer. The Women & Babies care team is happy to accommodate special situations and does so with regularity. We partner with each expectant family to understand what is important to them and ensure a unique and safe birth for mother and baby.
We regularly work with separated military families, births that involve a gestational carrier or surrogate mother, and traveling families who experience a pregnancy complication and require unplanned prenatal care and delivery. And we also accommodate situational preferences to personalize the expectant mother’s birth experience—such as personal music, aromatherapy, pillows and comfortable clothing.