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More women are choosing to have babies at MRHS - Daily Leader Extra : Top Stories

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More women are choosing to have babies at MRHS

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Posted: Friday, November 1, 2019 3:05 pm

Rob and Teryl Hein spend a lot of time in a rocking chair these days, holding their one-month-old miracle, Will.

"We were both very anxious," Rob said about the unexpected pregnancy.

The couple has been married for nearly 10 years, having met while students at Dakota State University.

"We played poker together and he was my calculus tutor," Teryl commented.

They married in November 2009 and currently live in Madison, after returning to be near family after their first child was stillborn. Rob is a software programmer who works at home for a Texas-based company. Teryl is a phlebotomist at Madison Regional Health System and a bartender at The Lakes Bar and Grill near Wentworth.

Starting a family has been a difficult journey for them. They had even given up trying when fertility treatments hadn't resulted in the desired outcome. The pregnancy came as a surprise.

"We didn't even tell people because we didn't know how it would turn out," Rob said.

From the beginning, Teryl received the kind of personalized care that helped her to cope with her fears.

"There were days when I wouldn't feel him move," she recalled.

Rather than discount her concerns, clinic staff would address them. Sometimes that meant letting her hear the baby's heartbeat. At other times, that meant squeezing in an appointment so she could be seen by a medical professional, either Laurel Jennings, M.D., her physician, or one of Jennings' colleagues.

Teryl admits she sometimes scared herself by conducting online research. However, Jennings helped her put information she learned into perspective.

"She said, `Only one of us has a medical degree and Google isn't the one'," Teryl said.

On Oct. 1, she went in for a non-stress test, which is done close to delivery to see if the baby is doing well. The test indicated the need for a Caesarean section, which was done within the hour. Will weighed in at 6 pounds, 14 ounces, and was fine.

"The idea that he could come out and be healthy and perfect was unbelievable," Rob said.

While the Heins are careful to say the prenatal care they received in Minneapolis with the earlier pregnancy was standard and appropriate, they are quick to note that the care they received in Madison was significantly better.

"It's more like a caretaker than a consultant," Rob explained. "In the big places it's like they're just doing their job."

That kind of personalized care is the goal of Madison Regional Health System, according to Beth Graff, director of clinics and community services as well as director of obstetrics.

"You're not just a number here. You're a person. You're part of our family," she said. "We're delivering babies for people that we know."

Since MRHS opened the new facility in November 2016, the number of babies delivered has increased 52%. Staff works to implement research-based best practices and to ensure women have the kind of experience they want.

"I've very passionate about helping healthy moms deliver healthy babies," Graff said, explaining her personal commitment to the obstetrics program.

Currently, MRHS has four family practice physicians who are dedicated to delivering babies, two spacious birthing suites with state-of-the-art equipment, and three certified lactation counselors. Consultations with a specialist via telemedicine are an option should the need arise.

MRHS also has hired and trained dedicated delivery staff. In addition, the entire OB staff is certified in neonatal resuscitation for that 1% of births when babies need help following delivery.

"I feel that the staff we have are very passionate about providing the experience the mother wants," Graff said.

In speaking about OB services at MRHS, Graff has a refrain she returns to again and again: "the experience the mother wants." In saying this, she is not simply voicing a warm fuzzy sentiment but is explaining why the hospital offers the options it does.

The mom has pain management options during delivery. In addition to traditional options, MRHS now offers nitrous oxide, which is mixed with oxygen and controlled by the mother.

"It can help decrease anxiety and help her relax," Graff explained. While this is standard at hospitals in Minnesota, MRHS was the first to offer it in South Dakota.

In addition, moms can use a Jacuzzi to help them relax or bounce on a birthing ball or peanut ball, which helps to open the pelvis for birth. MRHS has a wireless fetal monitor to give moms in labor greater freedom, so they can walk if they choose to do so.

"They're not tied to that bed like they used to be," Graff said.

With the birthing suites, the mom can invite others to share the experience with her.

"We allow them to have who they want with them -- within reason," Graff said, adding that having two dozen people might crowd the suite. "It's who she wants to be with her to support her."

Even when a C-section is necessary, the mother is not separated from her child.

"We get that baby to mom," Graff said. "We want to get skin to skin and get that bonding started."

Following birth, moms can draw upon the services of a lactation counselor if they are having trouble with breastfeeding or to learn about current practices regarding infant care.

For example, generations of parents placed their infants on their tummies to sleep; now parents are advised to place babies on their backs in a crib with nothing else. Similarly, new information is available regarding baby crying.

In addition, moms are invited to bring in their infants for a free postpartum visit three days after going home. This provides an opportunity to ask questions they may not have had earlier.

The goal is to have moms feel comfortable in caring for their babies.

"Moms are the heart of our community," Graff said.

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