Editor’s note: Presence Covenant Medical Center is a sponsor of Chambanamoms.
No one wants to plan for the potential circumstances that arise when a birth doesn’t go exactly as hoped.
But parents are wise to consider all the possibilities. And Presence Covenant Medical Center – which has earned the designation of being a “baby friendly” facility by Baby-Friendly USA — can offer a postpartum setup that gives comfort to both baby and family when the need for special care arises.
“We never want to bring the baby in here,” said special care nurse Keri Nadar, referring to the special care nursery. “The end goal is to have a healthy and safe delivery and to leave the baby with the parents. But there are some times when that baby just doesn’t transition. And you need a little extra support and that’s when this unit becomes the next step for them.”
Presence does not have a traditional nursery; most of the procedures a newborn will experience that might have been accomplished in the nursery are instead done in the same room as mom, often while in her arms, or by her bedside. In nearly all cases, only a baby that needs special care will be admitted to the nursery.
Presence offers several appealing options that can provide support for both baby and family.
–The special care nursery is open 24 hours, with only a few exceptions: shift changes (7-7:30 a.m.; 7-7:30 p.m.) and when a new baby is admitted. In both cases, the reason is HIPAA laws; privacy regulations must be followed, and staff are discussing details of a baby’s care that must be kept confidential.
–Virtual family: Presence provides an online ‘virtual family’ experience that allows friends and family to view and hear the baby while watching on a computer, smartphone or other electronic device.
“This virtual family device gives the constant ability to see their baby even if they’re not able to come in,” Nadar said. “The parents are provided a unique code, like an email, and they can provide that to whichever family and friends that they choose to. They can log in and look at the baby.”
It is also two-way audio communication.
“We do turn off the mic (temporarily) if we’re admitting another patient,” Nadar said, again for reasons related to HIPAA.
It even applies to moms who are elsewhere in the hospital.
“That might be the parents who are still in the labor and delivery room because mom might be having some circumstances where she’s unable to get out of the room,” Nadar said, and the virtual family setup allows her to see the baby.
The virtual family is one important way that Presence places an emphasis on supporting anxious parents while their newborn receives special care.
“One of the main things is it’s more about making sure (parents are) taking care of themselves as well,” Nadar said. “Right now this baby needs a little more attention, but they need their parents to be healthy and stable. What I see on a constant basis are the moms who don’t get a lot of sleep and they stress out. It’s just that in order to take care of your baby, you have to take care of yourself. Our goal is to get the baby home and safe as fast as we possibly can.”
–‘Hoteling’: This is the term the hospital uses to describe its program that allows moms to stay – without expense – at Presence after they’ve been discharged. So if the baby is in the special care nursery, mom can stay at Presence to be near.
“Once a mom is discharged, depending on how long after delivery it is, we actually keep their postpartum room for them and available,” Nadar said. “They can leave the unit to get some fresh air – it’s highly recommended to go out – but that room is always theirs, so they can spend the night as often as they’d like, and come spend the days with them.
“While I do highly suggest getting out to go have dinner or some of that because this is not home, situations like this can make the parents very stressed out. By allowing them to stay, it allows them to have a second home close to their baby and it makes for a better transition for them and better bonding.”
This might be especially important for breastfeeding moms whose milk hasn’t come in.
“The more interaction she has with her baby, the quicker her milk will come in,” Nadar said. “It helps bring that milk supply in. Her hormones are fluctuating, so once she interacts with baby, her milk will come in, so we strongly encourage it.”
Presence’s special care unit is available for babies who have reached a minimum of 30 weeks. An in-house neonatologist is available on the floor 24 hours a day.