FEATURE — At the end of 2018, the Intermountain Women and Newborn Center opened their doors and began offering patient care at their new location at the Dixie Regional Medical Center River Road campus, including the popular Simply Birth suites.
“Giving birth in the birthing center was a peaceful, tranquil experience for me,” said Jessica Gish of her experience in one of the suites.
“It felt good to be fully in control of my body and to be able to give birth naturally. I am grateful and happy that we were also in the hospital. My daughter, Gwen, presented with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck,” Gish said.
Simply Birth is designed for women who have low-risk pregnancies and are seeking a low-intervention delivery at a lower cost. The suite offers the freedom and comfort of a home birth while ensuring that medical support is immediately available.
“We expect birth to be a normal, healthy process throughout your experience with us, and we are strongly committed to supporting your choices,” Jenifer Johnson, labor and delivery manager at DRMC, said. “The whole environment was created to encourage and honor physiologic birth while maintaining the highest level of safety for you and your baby.”
There are many benefits to the Simply Birth program. The suites have a beautiful, home-like design with a queen-sized bed, medical grade hydrotherapy tub and a large shower to use during labor. Early discharge from the hospital is offered, as is help scheduling early follow-up care for the newborn. Depending on prior birth history, an education plan is designed to meet individual needs, and all classes are free of charge for Simply Birth applicants and their chosen support person.
“Our nurses, midwives, and doctors are known for providing extraordinary care,” Johnson said. “Our nursing staff is engaged, highly trained and supportive of women seeking a low-intervention birth.”
Simply Birth protocols reflect the six healthy birth practices as defined by Lamaze International and align with recommendations from the World Health Organization and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to provide the best care for low-risk women in spontaneous labor.
Protocols are also supported by research studies that examine the benefits and risks of maternity care practices. Therefore, they represent evidence-based care which is the gold standard for maternity care worldwide. Evidence-based care means using the best research about the effects of specific procedures, drugs, tests and treatments to help guide decision-making.
Lamaze lists six healthy practices, including the following:
Let the labor begin on its own
“Letting your body go into labor spontaneously is almost always the best way to know that your baby is ready to be born and that your body is ready for labor. In the vast majority of pregnancies, labor will start only when all the players – your baby, your uterus, your hormones, and your placenta – are ready,” according to Lamaze.
Women are admitted into Simply Birth once they are in active, spontaneous labor which is about five centimeters of cervical dilation. DRMC does not offer inductions in Simply Birth.
Walk, move and change positions
“Moving in labor serves two very important purposes. First, it helps you cope with increasingly strong and painful contractions, which signals your body to keep labor going. Second, it helps gently wiggle your baby into your pelvis and through your birth canal,” according to Lamaze.
Simply Birth has specially designed hydrotherapy tubs, a large room to move around in, and queen-sized beds to encourage freedom of movement and choice of positions.
Bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous labor support
Research shows that continuous labor support in addition to nursing care decreases the length of labor, the use of pain medication and the number of cesarean births while improving women’s perception of their birth experience.
DRMC’s prenatal education classes offer a hands-on approach to learning, which gives support people the skills and confidence to help their loved ones during labor and birth.
Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary
According to the ACOG, listening to your baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope is the preferred method for monitoring the baby during labor for women who are low risk.
“At Simply Birth, we utilize intermittent auscultation to monitor you and your baby during labor,” Johnson said. “You are permitted to eat and drink during labor and do not require IV fluids. The medication Pitocin is not routinely used in Simply Birth to speed up labor, and pain is managed with hydrotherapy, breathing, massage, position changes and support. Epidurals are not used in Simply Birth.”
Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body’s urges to push
Standing, kneeling and squatting take advantage of gravity to help the baby move down into the pelvis. Simply Birth staff encourages and supports each woman to follow her own urge to push in whatever position and style she chooses.
Keep mother and baby together
“We offer a rooming-in policy that always keeps babies and mothers together,” Johnson said. “We have excellent breastfeeding support available, encourage immediate skin-to-skin contact with your baby and help to initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible after your baby is born.”
In addition to Simply Birth, DRMC offers low-intervention birthing suites for women who are not candidates for Simply Birth. Low-intervention rooms do not require an application and have state-of-the-art hydrotherapy tubs specifically designed for labor.
Written by LAURA TRITLE.
This article was first published in St. George Health and Wellness magazine.