Methodist’s Natural Birth Suite: ‘A Homelike Atmosphere Within the Safety Net of a Hospital’Published: June 14, 2022
Eight years ago, Hannah Badeer and her husband, Preston, arrived at an Omaha hospital to welcome their first child into the world. An epidural helped make for a fairly painless delivery until things quickly took a drastic turn. Baby Emerson suffered a meconium aspiration – the inhalation of amniotic fluid combined with Baby’s first stool. The 8-pound, 8-ouncer was immediately transferred to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit and stayed there for a week.
“But she’s had absolutely zero residual issues,” Hannah said. “And I’m confident it’s because they were so quick to get her where she needed to be. I’ve just known since that experience that I so appreciate giving birth in a place where people can act so quickly.”
A few years later, after being asked to photograph her best friend’s natural childbirth experience, Hannah also grew to appreciate something else: “Just the fact that it didn’t have to be so medical,” she said. “It was like, ‘Oh! Birth can look different than what I had!’”
Not Just for Midwife Patients
While pregnant with her fourth, Hannah was approached by her midwife, Amanda Lura, MSN, CNM, with Mid-City OB-GYN, about a new space at Methodist Women’s Hospital: the Natural Birth Suite.
“Most of the time, birth goes off without a hitch,” Lura said. “But there are those rare occasions where it doesn’t. And to have the comfort of a homelike atmosphere within the safety net of a hospital if things go south is huge.”
Hannah knew that was exactly where she wanted to deliver.
“I’ve never been one who wanted a home birth just because, again, I like the security of a hospital setting,” she said. “So having this option felt like the perfect happy medium of appropriate atmosphere and care.”
And it’s not just for patients who go the midwife route. Methodist OB/GYN Tifany Somer-Shely, MD, is one of the suite’s biggest advocates. She, a team of Methodist providers and specialists, and Mid-City OB-GYN midwives collaborated in the creation of this space.
“No. 1, it reduces the level of intervention,” Dr. Somer-Shely said. “And in terms of quality, less is more for healthy moms.”
The suite is something she recommends for her patients who desire a natural birth and are:
- 37-42 weeks pregnant
- In active labor or at least 4-6 centimeters dilated
- Maintaining cephalic presentation (Baby is positioned head-down)
- Not expecting multiples
- Not experiencing a medical, obstetric, fetal and/or neonatal condition that would jeopardize a safe labor, birth or postpartum state
- Presenting with a BMI less than 40
Dr. Somer-Shely also recommends prepared childbirth education classes for all her patients and their partners – especially those interested in natural childbirth.
“You can’t just walk into a natural childbirth experience and anticipate everything that comes with it,” Dr. Somer-Shely said. “You’ll be much more successful if you’re prepared.”
A “Less Medical” Feel
On March 19, Hannah and Preston walked into Methodist Women’s Hospital feeling very prepared. Hannah felt an overwhelming sense of peace, knowing she was about to experience birth in a space that felt so much “less hospital” than all her other births.
The lighting in the Natural Birth Suite was immediately calming, she said, thanks to an adjustable lamp inside the room. Hannah also brought Himalayan salt lamps, battery operated flameless candles, essential oil diffusers and a worship playlist to help further establish a comfortable, relaxing environment.
“Even the décor they had in the room – like little inspirational quotes – it was all really sweet,” she said.
Even as her contractions intensified, Hannah still felt at home. She took advantage of the suite’s whirlpool tub to help control her pain. And she gave her final push on her hands and knees while atop a queen-size bed. Preston lay next to her through it all, stroking her head and hand.
“And there’s just not room for that in a normal twin-size hospital bed,” Hannah said.
Baby Ruby, who was born healthy at 7 pounds, 5 ounces, received the distinction of Mom’s favorite birth experience.
“I just felt like all our prayers were answered for what I had envisioned this time – what I had hoped for this time,” Hannah said.
Low-Intervention in Any Room
Even with their hands full raising four busy girls, Hannah and Preston hope to eventually add to their family. If and when that time comes, Hannah hopes the Natural Birth Suite isn’t claimed.
“That was my worry with Ruby,” she said with a laugh.
Fortunately, the suite isn’t necessary for a natural birth.
“Let’s say a mom comes in and the room is taken,” Dr. Somer-Shely said. “Or maybe she doesn’t care about having a tub or a queen-size bed, but she knows she wants minimal intervention. We’ve developed an order set that can be used in any of the other rooms, as well. The order set is such that moms don’t have the IV, they’re allowed to eat and drink, they’re allowed to wear their own clothes, there’s not continuous monitoring, they don’t have to be medicated. For the most part, they can still pick and choose what they want and don’t want.”
And that’s one of the many reasons Methodist Women’s Hospital is “the place where people want to go to have babies,” Lura said.
She added: “Its nurses – who are very supportive of low-intervention birth – are unparalleled. And so are the physicians. They want this option for women in a safe environment, and that matters.”
“I was more than a patient,” Hannah added. “More than a checklist. I felt in control while still being cared for. And I think that’s The Meaning of Care.”