Each child is unique, so it makes sense that their arrivals would be different, too. Just ask Dan Ford, pharmacy manager at NorthBay Medical Center, and his wife, Anita. Their eldest son was born in 2009 at a large women’s hospital in Pennsylvania, while the two youngest saw the world’s first light in California.
But night and day were the differences between birth experiences the Fords say they had between the East Coast delivery, and the birthing experiences at NorthBay Medical Center in 2011 and 2015, Dan says.
“As a new parent, you don’t know good experiences from bad,” Dan says. “But, after our second son was born at NorthBay in 2011, we realized his experience was so much better than our first son’s delivery.”
When he learned that NorthBay Medical Center had earned a ‘Baby- Friendly’ designation in August 2014 just before the birth of their daughter, he laughed.
“I thought it was so odd. What we went through here in 2011 wasn’t baby friendly? I thought NorthBay had already earned that designation!”
For the Fords, the NorthBay birthing experience—for both their son and daughter—meant lots and lots of caring support from their Labor and Delivery and Mother-Baby nurses and lactation consultants.
“For me, it started the moment we walked in to have our baby,” Anita says. “From the nurses to the lab techs, everyone treats you so well, gives you so much emotional support when you’re going through labor, and then gives you much positive support and time to bond with your baby after the delivery. They take time to answer all your questions. And then there are the follow-up visits with lactation consultants to assure everything goes well after you go home.”
“Our firstborn was instantly bundled up after his birth and whisked right away,” Dan recalls. “They brought him back to us maybe a half hour later. When my second son was born, he was wrapped up and handed to me, but when my daughter was born, she was immediately placed on my wife’s chest. The nurses’ focus was getting the baby into immediate contact with Anita.”
“It was a wonderful birth experience,” remembers Anita. “Dan was able to cut Cate’s cord, and the nurses left us to bond with our daughter.”
It was a far cry from her first experience. “I have a vivid memory of the first night after our eldest was born. He had been so fussy, screaming, and having difficulty latching on to nurse. I needed help, but the nurses only wanted to know if they could take him to the nursery. When he finally settled down and fell asleep, it was 4 a.m. At 4:10 a.m., a nurse came in and said she had to take his vitals. I begged her to wait because he had just fallen asleep, but she insisted. I was in tears.”
NorthBay Mother-Baby nurses work around the baby’s sleep schedules. “My nurses made note of when Cate fell asleep, and came back four hours later to check her vitals. That meant I was able to get a good stretch of sleep, too. And, they were very good at working with me to help the baby learn to latch on. Even though this was my third time, you forget things,” Anita says.
Breastfeeding support is an important part of the Baby-Friendly Designation, says Katie Lydon, director of Women’s and Children’s Services, who points out that NorthBay’s lactation team educates staff and encourages and supports breastfeeding moms. It enables mothers to stay with their healthy babies 24 hours a day after delivery, in addition to that full hour of skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth.
“We’ve learned that skin-to-skin contact is so important,” explains Katie. “We know breastfeeding is one of the best things a new mom can do for her baby. So we’ve trained our staff to provide support and education to make the effort successful.”
NorthBay Medical Center has four certified lactation consultants who are available for one-on-one sessions with new moms. The support doesn’t stop there; outpatient support groups and consultations are available after mother and baby leave the hospital.
The idea is to make the entire birthing process a positive experience. “You’ve been waiting to meet this little person for nine months, and you’re almost in shock,” says Anita. “But the bonding time means so much and it was such a beautiful moment. We’re so happy with our birth experience at NorthBay.”