A loving start: Full-spectrum care gives families their best start- Dean - WI

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Published on November 16, 2016

A loving start: Full-spectrum care gives families their best start


Having a baby is a major, life-changing experience. SSM Health believes quality care spanning pregnancy, labor and birth is vital to giving families their best start.

Prenatal Care

As soon as a woman thinks she is pregnant, she should call for an appointment with her primary care provider. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports early and continuous pregnancy care can help reduce the risk of pregnancy complications for both mom and baby.

This early care helps moms better manage potential health complications or existing health conditions that could impact baby’s health. This could include high blood pressure, diabetes or even smoking. Routine prenatal exams with your care team will include heart rate monitoring, measurements of the baby’s development and tests that can help identify potential complications or health conditions for both mom and baby. If a mom develops pregnancy-related complications like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia her obstetrician can help her manage these conditions. If a health problem is discovered for the growing baby, any potential treatments or care decisions can be made with the care team before the baby is born.

Additionally, SSM Health offers many classes to help the family prepare for their new arrival. Class topics include general baby care, like changing a diaper and breastfeeding. You can find the full range of courses and register for classes in Madison at stmarysmadison.com, in Janesville at stmarysjanesville.com and in Baraboo at stclare.com

Giving birth

When it comes time to deliver your baby, SSM Health’s hospitals offer a wide range of low intervention options to help moms and their families experience birth together in a safe, home-like environment.

Staff is highly skilled at helping a laboring mother manage her pain. Nurses are trained to help her move into more comfortable laboring positions and can provide laboring aids like birthing balls or birthing bars. Staff can also teach a birthing partner how to help with positioning and muscle massage that can relieve some of the pain a woman in labor experiences. For stronger pain management methods, the mother’s physician can discuss all available options.

For low risk deliveries, a laboring mom is not always confined to the bed. For example, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – Madison offers a wireless fetal monitor that can be worn, when appropriate. By using these wireless monitors, or being taken off of fetal monitoring when appropriate, a laboring mom can walk around, try standing positions or even labor in a special laboring tub, or the shower or tub in her room. Other comforting options are also available including comforting aromatherapy and low lighting to help provide every mother the birth experience she wants.

While many women write out detailed birth plans, sometimes medical conditions or unexpected situations arise that require a change to the birth plan, such as a need to induce labor, change planned pain management methods, or a cesarean delivery is deemed necessary. Staff and doctors will then discuss the situation and all available options, walking the laboring mom and her support person through the steps needed for the safest and healthiest delivery method for both her and her baby.

Preparing for life at home

The specialized care and help from SSM Health staff continues through recovery. Mom and baby will receive personalized care from staff, including help making a strong connection through additional skin- to-skin contact, learning how to breastfeed, baby’s first bath and any other needs the family has while in the hospital.

One of the most important skills a new mom learns after delivery is how to breastfeed her baby. While some families choose to use formula, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC and the World Health Organization all recommend breastfeeding as the best nutrition for babies.

A mother’s milk is perfect nutrition for babies as it provides immunities only she can provide to her infant. Breastfed babies tend to have fewer allergies, fewer ear infections and a lower risk for childhood obesity.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding is also shown to provide many benefits for mom including a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer and certain types of breast cancers. Other benefits can include an easier recovery from childbirth and the release of the hormones prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin can create a peaceful, nurturing sensation that allows mom to relax and focus on her child. Oxytocin can promote a strong sense of love and attachment between mom and baby.

SSM Health staff is highly skilled in helping mom learn her baby’s hunger cues, as well as multiple ways to hold baby in a position that makes breastfeeding easier. Many of our hospitals’ registered nurses are also certified lactation consultants. In addition, the hospitals staff lactation consultants every day to provide advice and support.

We understand that some women have concerns about breastfeeding and may not have a strong support system to help them be successful at breastfeeding once they leave the hospital. To help with that support, SSM Health offers a breastfeeding help line that is staffed daily by a dedicated lactation consultant, nurses are trained to help answer a new mom’s questions about breastfeeding. In Madison the Best Start breastfeeding support group is free to all mothers every Thursday from 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm.


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