NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Lindsay and Steel Moore joyously welcomed baby Lealand into the world at 5:17 a.m. on Nov. 29, 2019.
After 30 hours of labor – it began the day before Thanksgiving and ended the day after – she was immediately placed on Mom’s chest while Dad cuddled on the bed beside them.
“What I remember thinking was, ‘It’s time to come out,’ Lindsay said. “I was ready. I was totally ready. It was a huge relief. It was a huge payoff. I thought to myself that I was really proud because I had gotten through the process without any sort of drugs or - I did it by myself, with my team, with my husband.”
The experience at Saint Peter’s University Hospital’s Mary V. O’Shea Birth Center is for the woman – such as Lindsay – who wants a natural, physiological birth where she is in control. No doctors, no epidurals, no beeping noises – just a queen-sized bed and childbirth the way nature intended it.
Named to honor the memory of a benefactor, longtime area resident and parishioner of St. Peter the Apostle University and Community Parish in New Brunswick, the center is New Jersey’s first birth center found on the grounds of a hospital.
Since the 4,100 square foot facility opened Nov. 5,2019, it has been the birthplace of nine babies. It has its own entrance off Easton Avenue and is connected to the hospital by an elevator.
Everything about the two delivery suites is designed to keep mom and baby – and even dad and other family members and friends – calm and comfortable.
Considering all the amenities and engineering tricks, the suites are better than Better Homes and Gardens.
From the laminate wood flooring to the decorative lamps, the furnishings and soft colors give the suites the feeling of a spa meets country guesthouse – right down to the stuffed teddy bear nestled on a hand-made afghan on a blue-upholstered recliner.
And unlike in a hospital room, you won’t find any whirring machinery or tangles of wires. They are all but invisible, nearly tucked away in small compartments inside the walls.
Each suite also has a tub and there is a shower where she can go sit under the water. There a speaker that plays nature sounds and aromatherapy is available.
On warm days, she can sit out in the courtyard and gaze at the water fountain.
The woman is free to walk around the Birth Center – she can even spend time in the common area. The common area offers friends and families all the creature comforts of home, such as couches, coffee makers and even a television.
Although simply pleasing to the eye, the suits are carefully designed to aid in the birth process.
“In general, when women are in a safe environment, a calming, warm environment, the labors do progress very well,” certified nurse midwife Joanne Cunha said. “So, we had a couple of women who gave birth very quickly because they just feel super safe.”
Also keeping the women feeling super safe during labor is her Birth Center team. Each birth is attended by a nurse midwife, a registered nurse and a patient care technician who is trained as a doula.
By the time the big day comes, the expectant mother will have gotten to know her team very well during her checkup appointments at the Center.
The team members do everything from monitor the baby’s heart rate to offer encouragement.
“The encouragement definitely helps with the labor process,” Pamela Harmon, the director of women and children's services at Saint Peter's and administrative director of the Birth Center. “If she feels threatened or if she feels that she’s not being supported, that alone in itself can stop the labor process. So, the comfort and being supported by, whether it be her loved ones or our care team, it just helps that progression of labor more smooth.”
The Birth Center is the place for women who are considered low-risk when it comes to their pregnancy. Factors such as age and body mass index are taken into consideration.
What is unique about the Birth Center at Saint Peter’s is that an emergency team can respond in seconds in the unlikely case of a complication. Plus, Saint Peter's is a state-designated children's hospital and a regional perinatal center.
That’s one of the reasons Moore decided to have her daughter here.
“I knew that since they were connected to a hospital, I was going to have the best of birth worlds,” she said. “If there was an issue that they could not tend to I could – if I needed an emergency c-section, it would have been a no-brainer. It would be right there in the hospital.”