The Comforts of Home, The Safety of Exceptional Care |

The Comforts of Home, The Safety of Exceptional Care

Labor and Delivery Will Soon Look a Little Different

by Mary Beth TeSelle, Special to The Union
The Family Birth Center at Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital has a new name and will soon have a new look, as large, modern birthing and recovery rooms are unveiled in the coming months.

Every year, between 350–450 babies are welcomed into the world at Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. In the coming months, new moms will begin to experience some very exciting and significant changes.

“This is a wonderful time to be pregnant and planning to deliver your baby in Nevada County,” says Dawn Schultz, SNMH Birth Center Manager.

The first step in the transformation taking place at SNMH is a re-naming of the unit where babies are born.

“For years, this unit was known as the Women’s and Infants’ Care Unit — or the WICU,” explains Schultz. “We recently changed the name officially to the Family Birth Center. We felt very strongly about the change because it shows where our focus is – on the families we care for here.”

Schultz says the next step is a major change to the rooms where laboring and new moms stay while in the hospital.

“In the past, we’ve had separate patient rooms for labor and recovery,” she explains. “Over the next couple months, we will be transitioning to new rooms that will be LDRP — labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum. That means our moms will be in the same room for the duration of their stay with us.”

Schultz explains the new rooms will also be more spacious, comfortable, and welcoming.

“Our moms will now have everything they need in one room,” Schultz says. “These rooms have windows and more space, and will truly combine the creature comforts of home with the safety and security of a hospital delivery.”

That combination of comfort and safety is what Schultz wants the community to understand about the Family Birth Center.

“Our focus is family-centered,” Schultz says. “Our goal is to help every mom achieve a healthy, low-risk birth with as few interventions as possible.”

Recent data shows Schultz and her team are doing exactly that: The current C-section rate at the hospital is an amazing 12.7% — dramatically below the national average of 31% (according to the Centers for Disease Control).

“We hear that women are afraid that if they deliver at the hospital, they will be more likely to have a C-section,” explains Schultz. “Here at SNMH, the reality is quite the opposite. Our nursing team and our physicians work together to ensure that mothers are able to labor with as little intervention as possible — and our very low C-section rate is proof of that.”

Schultz points out, however, that for mothers who need and desire pain relief intervention, they can have it at SNMH.

“Laboring mothers at SNMH can get an epidural 24/7 at SNMH,” she says. “We also offer nitrous oxide, which is shown to be a safe, low-risk pain reliever during labor.”

In addition, SNMH offers a variety of tools to support moms during labor, including a labor tub, birthing balls, and aromatherapy.

Schultz is also developing a robust certified nurse midwife (CNM) program at the Family Birth Center, with one CNM already on staff and more to come.

“Our CNM works with our OBs and provides patients a continuum of care throughout their labor,” she explains. “A certified nurse midwife can support a mom through the various stages, push with her, and help her pursue a low intervention delivery. There has been a growing demand from the community for CNMs at SNMH and we are proud to provide them.”

SNMH also has two certified lactation nurses on staff to support new moms and their babies as they navigate breastfeeding for the first time.

“Ninety-two percent of new moms leaving our hospital are exclusively breastfeeding their baby,” Schultz says. “No one here will try to get you to give your baby a bottle! Rather we will help equip you to be successful at breastfeeding and to understand the many benefits.”

At the heart of the success of the SNMH Family Birth Center, according to Schultz, is the incredible nursing staff.

“They are passionate and committed to ensuring that their patients’ needs are heard,” she says. “They work with their patients and support their birth plans and listen to their concerns. And because our nurse-to-patient ratio is so low — often just one or two patients per nurse — our nurses really become partners in each family’s birthing experience.”

Schultz encourages anyone expecting a baby to come visit the SNMH Family Birth Center [details below].

“We know this is where you live and we want you to be comfortable and confident in delivering here, in your community,” she says. “We want you to know that you will receive the one-on-one care you desire, right here. Our focus is to continue to grow and build on what the community desires in the safest way possible. We truly are family-centered and patient-focused hospital.”

Take a Family Birth Center Tour

Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital is once again offering tours and classes in person and will continue to offer online options as well. To register, call 530.274.6089.

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