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During the past century, the experience of childbirth has evolved from all natural to heavily medical and back toward a more holistic approach.

Expectant moms often ask, “What will my birth experience be like?” At Heart of the Rockies Medical Center’s Family Birthing Center, the goal is to balance an empowering birth experience for the family with a safe outcome for mother and baby.

Lamaze International published a position paper in 2007 on “Promoting, Supporting and Protecting Normal Birth” that described six care practices. Locally, HRRMC follows these practices as often as possible while also providing access to medical care if needed.

1. Labor begins on its own: HRRMC does not provide elective delivery prior to 39 weeks of pregnancy. If labor needs to be induced, our providers prefer to use the least invasive and safest means possible. We employ such nonmedical methods as the cervical ripening balloon and walking, and once progress is adequate, rupture of the amniotic sac.

2. Freedom of movement throughout labor: The nurses in the birthing center have decades of combined experience in labor and delivery. We have both studied and observed how well moms do when they move freely during labor. We encourage and teach a variety of positions and can provide a birthing ball or stool for patients’ use in addition to walking, dancing, hands-and-knees, squatting or any position the mother desires.

If a mom chooses to have an epidural or is at high risk, we will cooperate with her to assume positions of comfort using a peanut ball or several different bed configurations. Wireless monitoring is available for convenience as well as for the patient’s safety.

3. Continuous labor support: Our nurses strive to equip the labor coach with the tools to help Mom breathe, relax, eat and drink during the hard work of labor. Ambient lighting, massage, music, aromatherapy and Jacuzzi tubs also support our moms. Comfort items from home – such as a favorite pillow, slippers, snacks or a playlist – are encouraged. If a labor partner needs rest time, our nurses gladly assume the support role to provide them with some relief.

4. No routine interventions: Labor patients at HRRMC can expect to have an intravenous catheter placed (for emergency use) and an initial 20 minutes of fetal monitoring. Any further intervention is based solely on risk to the mother or baby. Epidural pain relief is available, but never required, in the birthing center. We respect and endeavor to accommodate our patients’ wishes.

5. Spontaneous pushing in upright or gravity-neutral positions: We encourage patients to labor down until they feel the urge to push to prevent perineal trauma. Pushing is done in various positions, without holding legs or holding your breath. Warm compresses to the perineum can be provided. A visit during the third trimester to one of HRRMC’s pelvic-floor physical therapists can identify the best labor positions to prevent severe lacerations.

6. No separation of mother and baby, with unlimited opportunities for breastfeeding: The Family Birthing Center prioritizes the “golden hour” of skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby until at least after the first breastfeeding for all deliveries. Rooming-in is encouraged and our nurses are available to care for baby if Mom needs to rest. Many of the birthing center nurses are certified lactation counselors and welcome return visits for complementary breastfeeding support.

At HRRMC’s Family Birthing Center, we apply both the art and science of nursing while giving personalized care in a safe setting. We want moms to have the empowering birth experience they choose and to achieve an amazing outcome – a healthy baby.

For more information, visit hrrmc.com or call the Family Birthing Center at 530-2277 to schedule a tour.

Tracey Hill, RN, BSN, MS, is a nurse in Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center’s Family Birthing Center.

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