It's Monday afternoon in Georgia, and Gail Waters is happily prepping for the week ahead. Under her leadership as Nurse Manager of Women's and Pediatric Services, about 150 babies are born at Wellstar North Fulton each month. Even though her 20 years of service make her a labor and delivery veteran, Waters still greets each experience with a fresh perspective and an open mind.
“No two births are alike,” Waters says. “The babies guide the process, and their safety is at the center of what we do. I have a great team here at Wellstar.”
According to Newsweek, the efforts of Waters and her colleagues have been a tremendous success. Wellstar North Fulton has been recognized on Newsweek's Best Maternity Hospitals 2020 list. This is an honored distinction shared by only 8 hospitals in Georgia and 236 hospitals nationwide.
Using Best Practices to Offer Safe Care to All
When new parents plan their ideal birth experience, safety is a number one concern. Nonetheless, the United States has recently set records for increasing maternal mortality rates. Wellstar is helping reverse this alarming trend by implementing best practices to improve the quality of life of mothers and newborns. These include reducing C-sections, episiotomies and early inductions.
When used with discretion, these can all be life-saving measures. However, C-sections and episiotomies are also invasive procedures that come with elevated risk of avoidable injury and infection. Likewise, children born prior to 39 weeks experience higher risk of infection and developmental challenges than their peers.
Wellstar's labor and delivery teams limit C-sections and episiotomies to what is medically necessary.
Additionally, Wellstar is the first health system in Georgia to eliminate all non-medically necessary inductions prior to the 39-week mark.
Newsweek conducted its landmark study in partnership with The Leapfrog Group, a non-profit organization that monitors safety within U.S. hospital systems. All hospitals that received positive recognition have low rates of C-sections, episiotomies and early inductions. However, Wellstar North Fulton goes beyond the basics to ensure the best in maternity care.
Unique Options Accommodate a Variety of Birth Plans
Over the years, parents have embraced home birth as an alternative to what they perceive as a clinical hospital experience. However, Wellstar North Fulton challenges the idea of how a hospital-based birth must look and feel.
At Wellstar North Fulton, many patients choose to give birth in a traditional manner. However, they are encouraged to have an active say in their experience. Childbirth classes, now available virtually, also help parents make informed decisions about pain management, breastfeeding and the details of their birth plans.
One unique option available at Wellstar North Fulton is the ability to have a water birth. According to Waters, Wellstar North Fulton's first water birth occurred soon after she joined the department in 2002.
Today, approximately 9 percent of all deliveries at Wellstar North Fulton are water births. According to Waters, water birth is a great option for expectant parents who wish to experience natural pain management and enjoy the relaxing feeling of a warm bath.
Wellstar North Fulton's water birth option attracts patients who live not only within Metro Atlanta but also throughout Georgia and neighboring states. Patients who choose to deliver via water birth must earn a water birth certification and pass a series of screening procedures for safety.
Finally, newborns delivered prematurely or with complications receive swift, expert attention at Wellstar North Fulton. The Level II NICU provides world-class neonatal intensive care.
Wellstar Maternity Care Remains Family-Centered Throughout COVID-19
In order to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, Wellstar maternity patients may have one support person accompany them through the duration of their labor, delivery and hospital stay. This is a change from the days when large groups of relatives would gather to celebrate a birth. However, it brings an extra level of intimacy and involvement with the labor process. Wellstar's maternity care professionals embrace this by providing meals to the guests and making them feel like part of the team.
Having a child represents having hope for the future. While national birth rates have slowed somewhat during the pandemic, Waters happily reports that the birth rate at Wellstar North Fulton has been trending slightly upward, and the maternity care team is proud to continue their heartfelt work.
Now distinguished by Newsweek, Wellstar North Fulton provides an ideal facility for welcoming newborns with compassion, care and expertise.
To learn more about Wellstar's comprehensive maternity care options, visit wellstar.org.
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