New Brunswick, N.J. – October 2019 – A unique birthing experience awaits expecting families with the impending opening of Saint Peter’s University Hospital’s new Mary V. O’Shea Birth Center in late October.

The state-of-the-art Birth Center is New Jersey’s first Birth Center found on the grounds of a hospital and also the new home of Saint Peter’s midwifery practice – where expectant mothers and their families will also go for office visits, birthing classes and the birth of their baby.

According to The American Association of Birth Centers (AABC), a birth center is defined as a “home-like setting where care providers, usually midwives provide family-centered care to healthy pregnant women.” To be a true birth center, AABC stipulates that one connected to a hospital must meet certain standards for independence and also be separate from the Labor and Delivery unit.

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At 4,100 square feet, the Birth Center includes two birthing suites with the look and feel of a residential bedroom, a reception area, exam rooms, a lounge area, dining area and full-size kitchen. Each birthing suite has a queen bed, spa-size tub and shower, plus space and furnishings to accommodate family and other support individuals.

A distinctive factor from other birth centers in the region, the Mary V. O’Shea Birth Center is in close proximity to the leading-edge services, expertise and technology of Saint Peter’s University Hospital’s Labor and Delivery and renowned Regional Perinatal Center with its Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit should medical intervention be needed.

“It truly is the best of both worlds,” said Joanne Cunha, MS, CNM, certified nurse-midwife and clinical director of Saint Peter’s Midwifery Services. “A stunningly beautiful, quiet and comfortable space to bring a new life into the world, but with all the resources of the hospital, just a few floors away,” she said.

The growth of the birth center concept coincides with an evolution in obstetrics care, regarding pregnancy and childbirth as a healthy, normal part of life – not something to be treated as a medical condition. The Birth Center team embraces that wellness model. They provide continuous, supportive care and use interventions only when medically necessary.

Each birth is attended by a midwife, a registered nurse and a patient care technician who is trained as a doula.  The Saint Peter’s team is exclusive to the Birth Center.  All Saint Peter’s midwives are certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board.

“We respect each woman’s right to decide the circumstances of her birth experience,” Cunha said. “Our expectant mothers can eat when hungry, spend time in the tub and labor in the most comfortable position, specific to them. Fetal monitoring is done by handheld Doppler so women can move about freely. We attend to her every need and serve as her partner in the decision making about her birth plan,” she adds.

Central to the experience is the mother’s birth plan, developed at the beginning of the pregnancy. Expectant mothers use it as a tool to document their personal preferences and wishes for how the labor should progress – everything from designating family members and support individuals in attendance to labor expectations and directions regarding medical intervention, should the need arise.  

This philosophy of care is part of a holistic approach, developing real relationships and considering all aspects of the expecting mother’s life. “It’s low-tech and high-touch, incorporating the family. We spend time. We educate. It’s an inclusive, personalized, one-on-one approach,” Cunha explained.

The Birth Center was named to honor the memory of Mary V. O’Shea, benefactor, longtime area resident and parishioner of St. Peter the Apostle University and Community Parish in New Brunswick. For more information or to schedule a tour, call (732) 339-7880 or visit www.saintpetershcs.com/birthcenter, where you may also download the birth plan.

About Saint Peter’s University Hospital

Saint Peter’s University Hospital, a member of Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, is a 478-bed acute-care teaching hospital sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen. Saint Peter’s is a state-designated children’s hospital and a regional perinatal center, and is a regional specialist in diabetes, gastroenterology with a specialized Heartburn and Reflux Center, oncology, orthopedics, and women’s services. The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital provides families with access to a full range of pediatric specialties, including a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, pediatric surgery and orthopedic surgery featuring innovative anterior scoliosis correction surgery. The hospital offers a midwifery service and the brand-new state-of-the-art Mary V. O’Shea Birth Center. Saint Peter’s is a sponsor of residency programs in obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics and internal medicine, and is a major clinical affiliate of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. Visit www.saintpetershcs.com or call 732-745-8600.

About Saint Peter’s Healthcare System

Saint Peter’s Healthcare System Inc., parent company of the Saint Peter’s healthcare delivery system, is comprised of Saint Peter’s University Hospital, a 478-bed acute-care teaching hospital and state-designated children’s hospital and regional perinatal center; Saint Peter’s Foundation, the fundraising arm of the hospital; Saint Peter’s Health and Management Services Corp., which oversees outpatient facilities, including the CARES Surgicenter; and Saint Peter’s Physician Associates, a network of primary and specialty care physician practices. Saint Peter’s Healthcare System is sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen and is a major clinical affiliate of Rutgers Biomedical Health and Sciences. For more information about Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, please visit www.saintpetershcs.com or call 732-745-8600.