So you’re having a baby at Prentice Women’s Hospital? Maybe you’ve heard rumors that Prentice is likely to cut first and ask questions about what you want later? After all it’s the “baby factory” right? At least that is the reputation among many Chicago doulas and a concern we hear from expectant families.
As a doula, there was a time where I too was scared of Prentice. I bought into the “baby factory” mentality and vowed never to go there. Then in 2012, I was the backup doula at an amazing water birth with the Northwestern Medical Group midwives and after meeting some of the staff I decided to give Prentice a second try.
Fast forward three years, and we at Windy City Doulas want to say that there are some pretty awesome things happening at Northwesten, and we’re not just talking about the flat screen TVs and views of Lake Michigan.
Here are some of the things we at Windy City Doulas love about Prentice.
-The Nursing Staff: Overall, the labor and delivery staff at Prentice is great. Of course, there will be bad days and some personality clashes; that’s true of any nursing staff. But as a whole, I am always surprised by how welcoming their staff is. In my experience, the nurses go out of their way to support clients’ birth plans and advocate for their patients. I can’t explain how comforting it is to a client when a nurse walks in and says “Oh great, your doula is here. I love doulas.”
-Midwives!!!: Prentice is home to the Northwestern Medical Group midwives, formerly NMPG. Erie Family Health and Nye Partners who also have midwives on staff. Multiple studies in the last few years have shown prenatal care from a midwife not only lowers health care costs, but results in more satisfactory birth experiences as well as lower cesarean and intervention rates for mom and baby.
-Evidence Based Care: More and more practices are embracing evidence based medicine. What does this mean for you? It means more clients being allowed to stay pregnant past week 41. It means more attempts at VBACs, it means oral hydration during labor, it means longer pushing phases and less c-sections. While there is nothing wrong with having a surgical delivery we know the US has an alarmingly high cesarean rate (32.7%) and Prentice hovers below that by 4-5%, not to shabby for a hospital delivering over 1,000 babies a month.
-Water birth and hydrotherapy: Prentice has HUGE showers in every room for laboring in. I’m talking party size. Also, there are a handful a rooms equipped to host a tub for hydrotherapy. Bonus - the NMG midwives attend water births and while there are some restrictions to being allowed in the tub, as a doula I have had dozens of clients (even with OBs) labor in the water and LOVE it.
-Wireless Monitors: Every room at Prentice is equipped to offer wireless continuous fetal monitoring. Why do we care about this? It means that clients who are trying for a VBAC, on pitocin, have meconium stained fluid or providers who require continuous monitoring can still walk the halls, be in the shower (and tub) and move around the room for comfort as needed.
-Coffee: Babies like to arrive during sleeping hours and usually take their time getting here. 24 hour coffee at Dunkin is a doulas BFF.
-Epidurals: Yep we said it: We love the anesthesia staff at Prentice. There is no shame in getting an epidural if a family feels that is the right choice for their birth. At Prentice, the wait for an epidural is never long and the staff is skilled at it does. Most epidurals I see at Prentice still give mom mobility while providing good pain relief.
-Triage: We admit the triage wait can be long at Prentice, but honestly, it can be long at any hospital on a busy night. At Prentice, doulas are always allowed into the triage room with their clients – there is no separation. There are private bathrooms for moms who want to labor in there, access to birth balls and a quiet hall to walk your baby out in.
-Supplies: Birth balls, peanut balls, squat bars, and birth stools-Prentice has them all. It is so nice to see a hospital investing in supplies that help support our clients comfort and help with labor progress.
-Placentas: Placenta encapsulation is becoming a hot, hot service in the maternity world. At Windy City Doulas, ourencapsulation specialists take your placenta rights very seriously and so does Prentice. They keep placenta release forms at the ready and always have the placenta boxed and ready to go for pickup.
We could continue on and on with reasons why Prentice is a patient and doula friendly facility, but we will leave you with this. We at Windy City Doulas support our clients to deliver where and with whom they feel the most comfortable. We encourage you to interview multiple care providers and make sure they support your birth desires as not all practices will be the best fit for each client.
Samantha Trebilcock BSN RN