We recently had the opportunity to tour a labor & delivery suite at the UAB Women & Infants Center with Freda Centor, Advanced Nursing Coordinator. Mamas, it was impressive, and we are so excited to tell you about it!
This facility is only eight years old, opening in 2010. The spacious rooms are modern and designed with moms in mind. In fact, the design team for these suites included two nurses working full-time to ensure the rooms would be exactly what a new mom would need. They didn’t overlook a thing!
There are 15 typical labor & delivery suites, plus two additional larger suites that are able to accommodate moms with a variety of special needs. The typical room includes a three-part birthing bed with accommodations for whichever position the mom would like to be in during labor or delivery, including a squatting bar. The hospital also has birthing balls and peanut balls on hand for moms who would like to use them, and the full private bathroom is at a mom’s disposal during labor as well. If a mom wants to labor in the shower, she can do so. Mom’s birth partner will also be comfortable on the couch, which features a flat mattress to make it as restful a stay as possible. Each suite is also equipped with a television and DVD player so Mom and Dad can create a calming environment with music or distract themselves with a show or a movie. Patients are also welcome to bring flameless candles or other items that will help create their ideal birthing environment.
Mom is also given freedom to enjoy visitors throughout labor, with five adults permitted in the labor suite at any given time. Once it’s time to deliver the baby, extra visitors give Mom some space and she is allowed to have two support people in the room with her. Security is taken very seriously at UAB, and all units in the Women & Infants Center remain locked. All visitors must register and receive a special badge that includes a photo, a date and time stamp, and a SKU. That’s right, people have to be scanned in to this high-tech facility!
While Freda’s explanation of the suite was extraordinary, what we found even more compelling was the nursing practices she described and the level of care each patient receives at the UAB Women & Infants Center. Although UAB is a high-tech hospital equipped to care for moms and babies with vast complications (40% of their patient population is considered high-risk), the Women & Infants Center focuses on being a hospital where the labor and birth process is treated as a normal and beautiful experience. The UAB staff supports all moms — from the mom who wants freedom to move around during labor with wireless intermittent monitoring to the patient who wants an epidural for pain management. The hospital staff works to ensure an individualized birth story for each mom and family. We loved that Freda emphasized this is a “wellness hospital” that primarily takes care of young, healthy women having a “normal well experience”.
The nurses and doctors at UAB Women & Infants Center want moms to have a wonderful experience as they bring new life into the world! Part of what they believe will make that experience wonderful is giving Mom and Dad as much control as possible throughout the birthing process. As long as all looks good medically, Freda assures us that the hospital strives to meet the desires and wishes of Mom and Dad and work collaboratively with the patient to ensure a safe birth experience. The doctors and nurses at the UAB Women & Infants Center truly respect the desires of each birthing mom. This level of respect is reflected in the one-to-one nursing care provided to patients on the labor & delivery floor. Nurses work 12-hour shifts and are assigned to only one patient during a shift. This is a huge comfort to a birthing mom, as she knows her nurse will be present and available for an extended period of time and she will have a true advocate in her nurse who has become fully invested in her birth. Another way this respect is shown is through the accommodations provided for each mom’s desired birth plan. A mom who desires an un-medicated birth will be supported accordingly, and a mom in active labor who requests an epidural will have an anesthesiologist at her service within 30 minutes. Another huge bonus for a mom desiring an un-medicated birth is that she will be paired with a nurse who has a passion for supporting moms through natural labor and childbirth. There is such a high level of commitment to moms on the part of the hospital staff!
To give moms and dads an experience they will remember and cherish, moms and dad are invited to participate in and relish the birth of their baby in a number of ways. Mom has the option to request a mirror and watch the birth of her baby, and Dad is given the privilege of cutting the baby’s umbilical cord, if he would like to do so. Once the baby is born, Mom gets to enjoy skin-to-skin contact while she bonds with her precious newborn and gives her baby his or her first feeding at the breast. Dad also gets a turn to cuddle Baby skin-to-skin before the baby’s nurses take measurements and perform other newborn assessments. This protected time is so precious for new parents! The baby will room in with Mom, so the mother-child relationship is strong from the start.
Moms and dads wait anxiously to hear that their new babies are healthy, and the availability of care for a newborn who needs some extra support is a serious concern for parents. UAB is better equipped than any other hospital in central Alabama to provide care for new babies with medical needs. The hospital houses two neonatal intensive care units (NICU). UAB has a Level 3 NICU, which is called the “continuing care nursery”. This unit is located on the second floor of the hospital. And did you know that UAB is home to the only Level 4 NICU in central Alabama? This is where babies can receive the highest level of care available in a NICU, and it is physically connected to labor & delivery. In addition, the UAB Women & Infants Center is connected to Children’s of Alabama. Moms and babies truly receive amazing care at this hospital!
Other accolades for the UAB Women & Infants Center:
- UAB has the lowest rate of cesarean section deliveries in Birmingham-area hospitals, despite having the highest acuity rate due to the large number of high-risk pregnancies handled at the hospital.
- UAB is the only area hospital with the “Baby-Friendly” designation.
- UAB is a Magnet designated hospital for excellence in nursing care, and the UAB nursing staff is comprised primarily of registered nurses.
While the level of care at UAB is stellar, so are the amenities. Let’s talk food. As a patient in the hospital, Mom will receive room service and she will get to order her meals from a menu featuring Birmingham’s own Frank Stitt as the guest chef. Frank Stitt! Many of the dishes on the menu are his creations. And Dad is not left out – Mom and Dad will be provided with a celebration meal at the time of their choosing that includes a bottle of bubbly (sparkling grape juice). And does Mom need some Starbucks? It’s right down the hall. Makes things easier on Dad, right? (Is this sounding like a romantic getaway?!)
If you missed our live tour of the labor & delivery suite with Freda on Facebook, watch it here:
Moms and Moms-to-be, this hospital has gone to great lengths to ensure you have the best birth experience possible. If you are interested in learning more or scheduling a tour, visit UAB Women & Infants Services online here.
*All photos by Hillary Gamble of Je Vois Photography.