Spectrum Birth Unit Tour, 4-14-15

SH booklet

In preparation for an upcoming birth, I toured Spectrum Health, Butterworth Campus, in Grand Rapids.  My notes are below.  While most of my clients are in the Muskegon area, if a mom has preterm labor or a baby is known to have health problems during pregnancy, the mom will most likely be referred to Spectrum, since there isn’t a NICU, or neonatal intensive care unit, in Muskegon.  Also, Muskegon moms planning a VBAC (vaginal birth after a cesarean) will be referred to Spectrum as they are the nearest facility with 24-hour anesthesia available, which is required at hospitals where VBACs are done.

Notes from Spectrum Health, Butterworth Tour on 4-14-15 with Bonnie Brack, RN

The tour met on floor “A” in the center tower.  We were told to have visitors park in ramp 7 and patients in ramp 6.

The postpartum rooms are on floors 6, 7, and 8 and we didn’t get to see them.  They are private rooms with their own bath and shower.

Women in labor present to triage, which has the same equipment as on the L&D floors.  I later asked if moms who presented further along in their labor had to spend time in triage and she said some women circumvent triage if it is apparent they are close to delivery.  Couples can also take advantage of valet parking.  At 9 PM, the doors lock.  If locked, wait for a guard because they’ll be right back.  Visitors must wear a badge.  In most cases, women move from triage, to the delivery floor, to a postpartum floor.

We went to the 2nd floor.  The 4 former triage rooms are now used to prep moms having cesareans.  The LDR (labor, delivery, recover) rooms are where the moms stay for up to 2-hr. postpartum.  The babies can room-in with them.  The nurse pointed out that the thermostat in the room can be adjusted, as well as the blinds and the lights.  She also emphasized 4 options: a wooden rocker, birthing balls, a squatting bar and a mirror.   When asked, she explained that they have different sized balls (or add or decrease the air to get them the right size), but they do not have space for a peanut ball.  I also asked about out-of-bed options for second stage, such as a birthing stool.  They used to have a birthing rocker, but no one knows what happened to it.  There is a whirlpool/Jacuzzi bathtub in each room, but water births are not allowed.  From the way she made it sound, all women push in bed.  There is no CD player available or MP3 hook-up in the rooms.  There is a couch the folds out into a bed.  TV channels 3, 8, and 13 are informational stations.  Linens, towels, washcloths, gowns and catheter kits are all kept in the cupboards.  Moms are only allowed ice chips in labor.  Up to 5 people are allowed in a room, in addition to staff.  In addition, each floor has its own waiting room.

Most circumcisions are done by the OB, the day after birth.  It’s whoever is doing rounds from the practice you are with.

Dial ‘9’ for outgoing calls.  She suggested bringing a cell phone and charger to the birth.

Nurse said there were no “walking” epidurals and all women with epidurals are catheterized multiple times during labor to empty the bladder.

There is a 1:1 nurse to patient ratio, except maybe 2:1 for patients in early labor.  All patients receive continuous electronic fetal monitoring.

There are 2 c-section rooms on the 2nd floor and another on the 3rd floor.  In an emergency, they can prep a patient in their LDR room.  Only 1 person is allowed in the room with the mom.  They still try to do modified skin-to-skin.  The doctor makes the first cut on the cord and the support person can make the second, if desired.

When I asked if there was a space where visitors could store food, she said there was a clean utility room with a fridge, but didn’t know if it could be used to store food.

Birth Quest Debuts Cooperative Childbirth Classes

Cooperative Childbirth Education Classes (Spring 2015)

I’ve probably been to more childbirth classes than anyone I know. The first series was taught through the Federally Qualified Health Center where I received prenatal care when I was pregnant with my son in Manhattan seventeen years ago, called Ryan-NENA Health Center. The instructor spoke a lot about how vivid her dreams were during pregnancy. She dreamed she was having a litter of puppies. She also spoke about her fear of leaving the baby on the car and driving away. I missed the final class, a tour of Beth Israel Medical Center’s obstetric unit, because my son was born a month early!

The second class I took was with Rochel Lieberman, Certified Midwife (CM) and Lamaze Instructor at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn. I chose her class because the public hospital where she taught specialized in the treatment of women with HIV.

Ms. Lieberman addressed her diverse audience by celebrating heritage. She asked each of us to share a trait we hoped this baby would inherit from the other person there. We mixed up the answers, held our support person’s hand and squeezed it when our trait was read. She also used film well, choosing each birth with consideration to reflect the families she worked with.

The next class series was in a Park Slope, Brooklyn brownstone with Ellen Chuse. We intimately and comfortably nestled into her living room for eight weekly sessions. I remember there being a midwife among the students. This was her first pregnancy and she knew that she needed this knowledge now that she was the patient. I was nervous for Ellen, having to teach someone who already had specialized clinical training in childbirth! She didn’t sweat it, but instead saw an opportunity to share even more knowledge with her students.

The most recent class I attended was with Samantha Kauffman at Gerber in Fremont. She was on-point with both the medical research and what is important to today’s moms. She showed a YouTube video with Penny Simkin that got my partner excited about delayed cord clamping — I couldn’t believe it!

So, you can only imagine how excited I am to walk in the footsteps of these great women in my profession, who have touched so many families at a time when information can provide comfort, strength and save lives.

I want my classes to be filled with families choosing birth center, hospital, home and free births. I want my classes to be a safe space for surrogate, same-sex, adoptive and biological parents. Whether you worship one God or Goddess, many, or none, you are welcome. Everyone gets the same information and gets to choose based on who they are and what’s important to them, without fear of judgment. That is, after all, the whole idea!