The St. Luke’s Roosevelt Tour

We toured the maternity ward at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital on Tuesday night. The woman who led the tour was a doula, and overall we liked what the hospital had to say, and the warm vibe we got from the staff.

The majority of births take place in a birthing room – a hospital room with a bed that contorts into a variety of positions, so the woman can be comfy during labor. There is a bunch of medical equipment in the room, and fetal monitoring is available. The mother’s and baby’s heartbeats are all displayed on a big screen by the nurses and doctors’ station, so that they can see how all the arrivals are progressing, kind of like in an airport. Epidurals and anesthetics are available if the mother needs them, though the doulla stressed that mothers can try for natural vaginal births. Right after birth, the mother holds and bonds with the baby in the birthing room for about an hour – the baby is only put in the little heating unit or whisked off for care if there are complications.

The mother then moves to a postpartum room to recover, which she shares with a roommate, and normally stays in the hospital for two days (3-4 for Caesarian). These were nice – for hospital rooms – though also small and a bit dark, especially if you don’t get the bed by the window. The nursery is available for when mothers want to take a shower or are in need of alone time, but in general babies stay in the room with the mothers. I don’t think partners were allowed to sleep over in these rooms. During the mother’s stay, nurses teach new mothers how to breastfeed and change and clean for the baby. I figured all that stuff was covered in pre-birth classes, or in books, or just by women passing on the knowledge orally. Cool to know that time is spent helping people get adjusted as parents before the baby goes home with them.

Our plan is to have the birth in the Birthing Center – three rooms with tall, double beds, whirlpool baths, and a bit nicer décor. (I don’t know why it matters to me how the room looks, but it does. I just don’t want the place to look sterile. This is a special thing, and I want it to happen in a special place.) The BC sees 35-40 births a month, overseen by midwives, who delivered 9.5% of all the births at SLR in 2006, according to a pamphlet we picked up. Epidurals aren’t available, the labor progresses naturally. Each room has a pantry so we can bring in snacks and food and tea during the process, and the doulla also talked about the importance of nice smells (I’m thinking a little lavender-water spray) and mood lighting and decorations. I wonder if we can bring music. I don’t know if S. will want music during the labor process, but I probably will. (Like We Will Rock You! – jk) After the birth, we can stay in the room for up to eighteen hours before being discharged, the goal being to get the baby and mother home to recuperate and bond, rather than keeping them in the hospital. We’ll have the same lessons in care for the baby before we go, but we’ll have to pick them up in a shorter amount of time. Of course, there are more classes required for using the birthing center, so hopefully we’ll have more practice beforehand.

It was intense seeing the space and thinking that, in May, this will be where it all goes down. We heard newborns crying from other rooms and saw families gathering together around the mothers’ beds, and it suddenly felt very real for me. There were a lot of emotions – excitement and nervousness, hope and fear – but in general the biggest thing was just the physical reality of it all. Like how S.’s stomach is starting to protrude, the baby is starting to seem less abstract, and more tangible. I can now picture where the birth will happen, and imagine it more clearly. It helps me prepare, mentally and emotionally, for what we’ll be going through.

After the tour we come home to watch the election returns come in. It was an intense night and exciting night all around. Here’s to new beginnings in 2009!


2 Responses to “The St. Luke’s Roosevelt Tour”

  1. 1 cindy November 8, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    don’t you wonder how many babies will be named barack or obama in the next year? 😉

  2. 2 briangresko November 9, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Or how about using Hussein as a middle name? Penelope-Cruz Hussein Gresko sounds pretty good…

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