ST. LOUIS – Expectant parents in the St. Louis area choose Mercy Hospital St. Louis more than any other hospital when it comes to welcoming their babies into the world. After months of listening to what moms want in a birthing experience, Mercy opened its new Maternity Welcome Center and Labor and Birth Suites on Jan. 28.
The new space totals 75,000 square feet on three floors. The Maternity Welcome Center, with four interview and 12 exam rooms, is located immediately inside the main lobby entrance providing easy access for moms to check in or be evaluated for labor. Two floors housing 31 new Labor and Birth Suites are conveniently located down the hall from the post-partum rooms where moms will spend the remainder of their stay bonding with baby. For moms needing a c-section, six surgical suites along with 11 private pre-op and recovery rooms are also included in the new space.
Through focus groups and social media, moms expressed their preferences for a high-tech and high-touch birth place and Mercy responded in many ways. The design concepts are centered around moms and families offering more space for comfort while at the same time allowing caregivers space to work.
“We are humbled that so many families choose Mercy to welcome their special arrivals,” said Heather Thompson, executive director of women’s services at Mercy Hospital St. Louis. “So we wanted to make sure to ask them for input when we were planning the new space. It has been great to hear their preferences.”
Not only are the spacious suites pleasing to the eye and comfortable for families, they also offer the latest technology for monitoring moms and babies during labor. The fetal monitoring system will allow women to be out of bed while still keeping track of baby’s heart rate during labor. They also have the option of using a multi-head, massaging shower or whirlpool tub to ease labor pains. Other accommodations include a birthing ball in each room, smaller waiting areas closer to birthing rooms, flat-screen TVs with built in DVD players, connection for MP3 players and comfortable sleeping options for birthing partners.
Beyond the physical changes in the new space, Mercy has taken steps to focus on supporting each mom physically, emotionally and spiritually during her labor. All labor and birth nurses were trained by Lamaze International in labor support skills that provide hands-on support for women giving birth. This includes the importance of movement and position changes, massage, hydrotherapy, music therapy and aromatherapy. In addition, as a growing number of women are seeking a low-intervention or natural childbirth, Mercy is prepared to support a woman for whatever she seeks during her birth experience with customizable Mercy Birth Plans.
“Some women want an epidural placed early in labor and others may want a more natural, un-medicated birth,” Thompson said. “With Mercy’s new birth plan women can let us know their wishes from the start.”
Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the United States and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, nearly 300 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,700 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In the east Missouri region, Mercy’s services include a 979-bed hospital in St. Louis, 187-bed hospital in Washington, and Mercy Clinic, a 550-member multispecialty physician organization.