This week we’re talking about the new low intervention delivery suites at the University of Missouri Women's and Children's Hospital. Our guests are mother Jill Markijohn, who was the first person to use the suites when they opened in November, Doctor Courtney Barnes, the medical director of the low intervention birth program, and certified nurse midwife Lori Anderson who works at Women’s and Children’s Hospital. To learn more, listen to our entire show, or read and listen to portions of our interviews below.
Listen to the entire show.
Courtney Barnes says her dream for the program is that patients can come in and get only the intervention that is necessary for their care.
Interest in low intervention delivery plans has a lot to do with education, according to Lori Anderson. She says that a lot of women want to back off and let things happen naturally.
Jill Markijohn was the first person to use one of the new suites at Women's and Children's hospital when she delivered a baby boy in November.
Interview with Lori Anderson
I’ve seen some pictures of the low intervention rooms and they look different from what you think of as a normal delivery room with a bed with stirrups. Can you talk about some of the things that are in the rooms?
We wanted the room to feel like their home away from home so that they could feel relaxed and secure and try to forget that they’re in the hospital. So it’s decorated very much unlike a hospital room, more what you would think of as a birth center if you know what a birth center is. And we have a special bed in there. Actually it’s not a special bed it’s just a regular bed instead of a hospital bed, but the architects made it so that it folds up into the wall and we can get it out of the way if we do need a regular hospital bed with the stirrups and the ability to sit up and move around and things. And then the room has a magnificent huge tub that is great for laboring. We don’t do deliveries in the tub right now, but we do offer it for labor and it really helps women to relax. It is something that a lot of women really enjoy. We also have a really nice birthing stool that will benefit a lot of women when it comes time to pushing, and some women deliver on it. Some women just push on it for a while and then move to a different position but that’s one of the special options that we have. We don’t do continuous monitoring. So a lot of women that have had babies before know that that can be very restrictive and make you feel like you are tied to the bed or at least close to the bed. We do intermittent monitoring. If we do require continuous monitoring, we can hook them up to a cordless set that they can still move around the room.
Why do you think the hospital chose now as the time to open up the center? Do you think that there are some movements and ideas about childbirth and what women want from labor and delivery?
Definitely. I think that a lot of women have gone to home births and birth center births, and women are smart and they are educated and they know that there can be a cascade of events if you can imagine when you start to intervene in the natural process. So, a lot of women that don’t need a lot of extra don't want extra. They want to back off and just let things unfold naturally, and as we have gotten more information about this the public demands it and a lot of women like I said have gone to home births with midwives and to birth centers with midwives but some women don’t feel comfortable doing that or they don’t have the option available either. Women’s and Children’s really stepped up and offered this for this community so that they have the best of both worlds. So that they can deliver in the comfort of a home-like setting with low intervention and with a midwife or with their regular doctor. It’s not just the midwives that do low intervention, but they have the safety net of the hospital surrounding them. So if there is an emergency they are seconds away instead of minutes to even an hour away from help, which in the case of a newborn or a woman in active labor that can be a life altering amount of time.
For a woman who’s only ever given birth in a traditional hospital, what do you think are some of the biggest differences that person would notice with a low-intervention birth?
Freedom of movement. Being more in charge and the, not having continuous monitoring. Those are probably the biggest complaints of women who have had babies before. And then just having the baby taken away from there or not put skin to skin, and that doesn’t really have anything to do with the low intervention program that all initiated from the baby friendly program that they started. So that sort of got the ball rolling, and people really liked that and we know that statistics and research show that it is very important for the baby and the mother for bonding and so that kind of escalated into looking at what people want and looking at research and seeing that it is a safe alternative. Not every patient is the right kind of patient. Some people don’t want that, and some that do just aren’t able to do that because of their risk status. So, a high risk patient that has had different problems during the pregnancy, say their blood pressure or gestational diabetes, those are the patients that are going to require continuous monitoring. Those are things that we evaluate for throughout the pregnancy, throughout labor, so that it’s safe but we are still trying to do what the women want and what they see as their ideal labor and delivery setting.
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.