Baby Zane’s birth was extra special, as his entrance to the world was as the first baby born at Saint Peter’s University Hospital’s new Mary V. O’Shea Birth Center.
New Brunswick residents Emely Madera and Hassan Hazim welcomed Zane on Nov. 17, though the New Brunswick hospital opened its new center on Oct. 28; the midwifery practice is the first such center in New Jersey located on the grounds of a hospital.
Midwife Nicole DeMerchant assisted with Zane’s delivery. The hospital was not authorized to release any further information about the family.
The purpose of the Birth Center is to provide a pain medicine-free, natural, comfortable means to delivering a baby. Mothers must be low risk, with criteria such as having a single birth, appropriate pregnancy weight and no medical treatment for diabetes.
At 4,100 square feet, the Birth Center includes two birthing suites, a reception area, exam rooms, a lounge area, dining area and full-size kitchen.
Each birthing suite has a residential feel, with a queen bed, spa-size tub and shower, plus furnishings to accommodate family and other support individuals. The furniture and decor was provided by Ethan Allen.
Window shades provide partial or complete privacy, with each of the two rooms overlooking the serenity garden.
“The women that come here are looking for this type of home-like delivery,” said Pamela Harmon, director of Women and Children’s Services at Saint Peter’s and the administrative director for the Birth Center. “We offer it in a safe environment without being in a hospital.”
The women are triaged over the phone by a midwife, and come in during active labor, about 6-7cm dilated, Harmon said. While staying at the center, they can walk around, stay in a hot shower, visit the serenity garden, use birthing tools or sit in the Jacuzzi.
Their heart rate is measured by a Doppler instead of being connected to machines.
Their family is welcome to stay with them in the room, especially other children.
They typically return home in 12-24 hours. The mother then brings the baby back for another checkup with a pediatrician in 24-48 hours.
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.
“This gives them alternative options and extra support,” said Joanne Cunha, MS, CNM, certified nurse-midwife and clinical director of Saint Peter’s Midwifery Services.
Women who are interested in utilizing the birth center must join the midwifery practice, and will discuss their options with the staff. If they risk out of the program, or if they change their mind during birth, they can be moved next door to Labor and Delivery.
Mothers must attend childbirth education classes and participate in a four-hour orientation class prior to admission.
There is also a five-week HypnoBirthing class, for those women who want to use meditation during delivery.
Harmon said there are about 1,200 home births in New Jersey each year. Since Saint Peter’s already has a high risk perinatal center, she said the decision was made to accommodate low risk births as well.
“This is a continued evolution of our maternity services. We have historically been a leader in maternal health as well as women and children’s services,” said Edna Arguello Hitchner, of the Marketing and Media Relations Department at Saint Peter’s.
Inside the main hospital, there are 15 Labor and Delivery rooms, five operating rooms and 77 post-partum beds, Harmon said. Approximately 5,600 deliveries take place each year, she said.
In close proximity to Saint Peter’s University Hospital’s Labor and Delivery and Regional Perinatal Center with its Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, medical intervention can arrive within 1 minute and 15 seconds if needed, Harmon said. There is also medical equipment in each room hidden behind closed doors, and a small room housing other equipment.
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.
The Birth Center accepts health insurance.
For more information or to schedule a tour, call 732-339-7880 or visit www.saintpetershcs.com/birthcenter.
Contact Jennifer Amato at firstname.lastname@example.org.