ST. LOUIS - While many were celebrating Labor Day with parades, swimming and barbeque, Mercy Hospital St. Louis was celebrating the opening of its new Mercy Birthing Center and its first baby. Susan and Sean Ray of St. Louis welcomed their first baby Theodore “Theo” James on Monday, Sept. 1. The area’s first in-hospital, low-risk birthing center run by certified nurse midwives at Mercy Hospital St. Louis officially opened on Labor Day.
Susan said she knew she wanted a natural birth. She started a prenatal yoga class and learned about the Mercy Birthing Center from the intructor and doula Christa Stauder.
"When Christa told me about it, I was excited but afraid I wouldn't make it since my due date was on the opening day," Susan said. "I think I willed my body to wait."
Diana Buckwalter, certified nurse midwife and Mercy Birthing Center program director, along with the couple’s doula Christa Stauder were on hand to provide support for Susan throughout the labor and help welcome the baby.
"The experience was terrific. Thought it was more work than I expected, especially the pushing part," Susan recalled.
Movement is important during labor and even the pushing phase, explained Buckwalter. "Because this was Susan's first baby and because he was a big boy [8 lbs. 10 oz.], he needed to be in the right position."
She explained how midwives help babies spin into the birth canal by moving mom into different positions while pushing - from side to side, squats and more. "There's a lot of motion and movement. Susan was the perfect patient and had the patience throughout her labor to push for three and a half hours before the baby was born."
"The turns and movement were hard, but with each one I could feel the progress and knew I was getting closer," Susan said.
Buckwalter credited Susan, "It was an extremely succesful birth because we worked together."
As for the new space, Susan said the tub was great for labor and after the baby arrived the water feature on the wall was very relaxing. "It was the perfect amount of light and the hum was very calming."
The new space has four birthing suites resembling a home bedroom with queen-size beds, showers and large tubs for labor. There’s a central living room area for family members, a kitchen, a space for childbirth classes and a separate clinical area where patients visit the midwife each month during pregnancy for prenatal visits.
For women planning to welcome their baby at the Mercy Birthing Center, care throughout pregnancy is provided by certified nurse midwives, who are masters-prepared advanced practice nurses certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives. In addition to prenatal appointments with certified nurse midwives, there are childbirth classes offered to learn more about the process as well as nutrition and fitness classes.
Most mothers and babies will go home with their families four to 12 hours after birth and return for follow-up care a couple days later. For more information about the Mercy Birthing Center, please click here.