Birthing Teams Ready for Action Around the Clock
When her doctor prescribed a “birth by appointment,” Angelica Carter thought she knew what she was getting into. After all, the Suisun City mother had labor induced seven years earlier, when her first son was born.
Now pregnant with twins, her doctor scheduled delivery at 38 weeks gestation. But this time, things were different. Shortly after the IV was started about 5 p.m., the contractions became intense.
“After about an hour and a half, I kept thinking, ‘Really? Really? Really?’ she recalls. “The pain was pretty strong. But the nurses were so kind; they brought me a yoga ball to lie on and warm towels for my back.”
Angelica was determined to have a drug-free and vaginal delivery, but by 9:30 p.m., the intense contractions were really sapping her resolve. “I finally agreed to an epidural,” she recalls.
I knew it was an emergency, but everyone moved fast and did a great job.
After another hour of labor, it was time for the doctor to check her progress. The doctor could feel a baby’s head, and something unexpected. “I think it was about 10:30 p.m. when the doctor said the umbilical cord was prolapsed.”
The umbilical cord is a flexible, tube-like structure that, during pregnancy, is the baby’s lifeline to the mother, delivering nutrients and oxygen. When the umbilical cord presents ahead of the baby’s body during delivery, it becomes a very serious complication.
“It is an obstetrical emergency,” stresses Katie Lydon, R.N., director of Women’s and Children’s Services. “When the umbilical cord becomes trapped against the baby’s body during delivery, there is a risk of lack of oxygen to the fetus; the situation must be dealt with immediately.”
Angelica’s doctor tried to lift the baby’s head off the cord but was unsuccessful. “She said this was serious, that we’re going to have to do a C-section and we’re rushing you to surgery. There was no time even to grab my husband.
“Everything happened so fast. I was so nervous, didn’t know what to expect. But my nurse, Hannah (Gregerson), was so calm, she held my hand, told me everything was going to be OK and that she would be right there with me. I knew it was an emergency, but everyone moved fast and did such a great job.”
The OB anesthesiologist was on hand and Angelica quickly fell asleep. “When I woke up, about an hour later, the first thing I said was ‘Where are my babies? What happened?'”
Elijah was born at 10:36 p.m., and brother Jeremiah was born at 10:38 p.m. Both boys weathered the emergency birth very well, and neither needed any time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “Elijah is my little firecracker,” Angelica says. “He’s so demanding, but cute. Jeremiah is a little more chill.”
Although Hannah could have clocked out at the end of her shift, she stayed alongside to provide some reassurance, and then the night team took over.
It’s the evening shift—from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.—that seems to see the most action, Katie says, attributing the uptick in births to the number of inductions that were begun during the day shift.
All day, every day, there are at least three Labor & Delivery nurses on shift, as well as an OB Tech and a Unit Clerk, who has an eye on the board that shows which rooms are occupied, and how far along in labor the patient may be.
“There is a lot of coming and going,” Katie explains, “not only with our patients who are in labor, but with outpatients with high-risk pregnancies who arrive to have their scheduled stress tests or ultrasounds performed, or those who have been scheduled to have their labor induced or to have a Cesarean section.”
The Unit Clerk is at the hub of communication and the OB Tech ensures patient safety through constant readiness for any delivery or emergency.
Each one of the eight Labor and Delivery rooms is treated as if it is an oasis of calm and quiet.
Overseeing all is the lead nurse. Autumn Thacker, R.N., is one of several nurses to have this role, and she says it’s a perfect fit because her 12-hour schedule crosses all three shifts, allowing her to work with incoming and outgoing Labor & Delivery, Mother-Baby and NICU nurses and doctors, providing a valuable level of continuity in patient care.
No matter the time of day, intensity of the patient load, or emergency situations such as Angelica’s, staff is determined to keep the chaos away from laboring moms, as part of the Baby-Friendly experience, Katie explains.
Each one of the eight Labor and Delivery rooms is treated as if it is an oasis of calm and quiet so that the families and their newest members are able to focus on each other, bonding and building memories for life.
“I was in the hospital for about five days,” Angelica recalls, “and a couple of my labor nurses and Dr. Berkheimer from the NICU came by to see my babies. They were all so great that night; they did an awesome job.”
And that’s according to plan, says Katie. “Our Labor & Delivery nurses work with moms and their labor support partners. We do our best to deliver the birth experience they want.”
Solano County’s Only Baby-Friendly Hospital
NorthBay Healthcare was named a Baby-Friendly hospital in August, 2014, putting the facility in elite company not only in Solano County, but across the country. Only 14.4 percent of babies are born in the 286 hospitals or birthing centers that have earned the distinction.
What makes a hospital Baby-Friendly? After undergoing a two-year process to change practices, NorthBay’s specially trained staff works to educate, encourage and support breastfeeding moms. The program also enables moms to stay with their healthy babies 24 hours a day after delivery and have at least a full hour of skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth. Additionally, all procedures that occur after birth are now performed either with the baby in mother’s arms or in the mother’s room. “We’ve learned skin-to-skin contact is so important for new babies, and we know that breastfeeding is one of the best things a new mom can do for her baby,” Katie explains. “We’ve trained our staff to be able to provide support and education to make the effort as successful as possible.”