Early Fall 2009
Cradled with Care
Cradled with Care

Southport residents Gwen and Scott Powell with their children (l-r) Emma, Olivia and Tyler, who were all born at Bridgeport Hospital.

Southport’s Gwen Powell remembers the soft lighting, the serene music, the aromatherapy, the special pillows… and drifting off to sleep. But this wasn’t a day at the spa, it was a postnatal (after baby is born) massage— a gift from her husband, Scott—in her room in Bridgeport Hospital’s Women’s Care Center, just a day after giving birth to their sweet baby girl, Olivia. “It was incredible and just what I needed,” remembers Gwen. “Olivia was asleep in the nursery, and I got this luxurious pampering.”

It’s been a few months since Gwen and Scott brought Olivia home. Now, adjusting to life with three young children (older daughter Emma is 8 and son Tyler is 4), Gwen longs for that postnatal massage and the relaxation it provided.

“The session brings Mom comfort when she needs it most,” says Tracy Grebla, a licensed massage therapist (LMT) who offers prenatal (before baby is born) and postnatal massages to Bridgeport Hospital patients. “Her body has been through so many amazing changes over the past nine months. Massage and relaxation can help her feel invigorated and renewed so that she is ready to go home and take care of her wonderful new bundle of joy.”

Massage is only one of the special amenities The Birthplace at Bridgeport Hospital offers to its patients. Today moms can select among all sorts of options that previous generations never knew could be a part of the hospital birthing experience. From room service to private quarters, these little extras can help create the perfect setting for parents to meet the newest member of the family.

From the moment expectant mothers arrive until it’s time to bring Baby home, moms are wrapped in comfort — beginning with special Maternity Stork Parking. Conveniently located directly outside the Emergency Department, these reserved spaces are available for moms in labor. The transport team then whisks moms directly to the Labor & Delivery Unit, part of The Birthplace at Bridgeport Hospital.

Labor & Delivery features private, spacious rooms where expectant mothers labor, give birth and recover. Each room is equipped with a full private bathroom, a sofa, a special Dad Chair which opens out to a bed, a television, wireless internet access, views of Long Island Sound and lots of natural light. Two rooms also feature Jacuzzi tubs. Corian countertops and ceramic tile complete the designer décor. State-of-the-art medical technology is cleverly hidden behind framed artwork and in oak cabinets resembling bedroom furniture. “I love how it doesn’t look like a traditional hospital floor,” remembers Gwen. “With its natural lighting, fluffy pillows and beautiful photographs along the walls, my room looked more like a spacious guest room than a place to have a baby.”

Electronic fetal monitoring equipment and communication systems track Mom and Baby, so physicians and nurses are instantly alerted to any changes in medical condition. And each room has a special hotline phone that connects immediately to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, just in case. “The high level of technology in each room increases the level of patient safety,” says OB/GYN Donna Sinclair, MD, who delivered baby Olivia in June. “Wherever I am in the unit, I have direct access to the monitors or the monitoring data for all of my patients.”

When she was pregnant with her son, Tyler, Gwen was diagnosed with a serious heart condition in which her heart rate would suddenly skyrocket to dangerous levels. Her condition rapidly escalated during labor, which required Bridgeport Hospital cardiologists to administer medication to bring it back down to a safe rate. “While Gwen was in labor, we were able to coordinate all of her care in one room,” says OB/GYN Marina Torbey, MD, Gwen’s physician. “She was quickly diagnosed, had a safe delivery and then was immediately treated by Bridgeport Hospital cardiologists, who stabilized her condition.”

When Pregnancies Get Complicated

When Gwen was in the 27th week of her pregnancy with daughter Olivia, she suddenly developed painful contractions. Her physician, OB/GYN Marina Torbey, MD, recommended that Gwen have a fetal fibronectin (fFN) test. (The fFN test is for pregnant women who have one or more symptoms that may predict preterm labor.) “When Dr. Torbey called me with the results, she said I needed to be seen immediately,” remembers Gwen. The problem? Gwen was at work. In Manhattan. “I only trusted Bridgeport Hospital, so I hired a car to take me directly there,” Gwen remembers. “Dr. Stiller and the team in the Antenatal Testing Unit did a scan, measured me and put my mind at ease. I knew I was in good hands.”

“We were very concerned because Gwen had delivered prematurely in her previous pregnancy,” says Chief of Maternal- Fetal Medicine Robert Stiller, MD. “Fortunately, we were able to determine that this was not true preterm labor and felt confident sending her home.”

The Antenatal Testing Unit at Bridgeport Hospital and the Section of Maternal-Fetal Medicine provide specialized services for both normal and high-risk pregnancies. Services include basic and targeted ultrasound, prenatal diagnosis, genetic counseling, preconceptual (before pregnancy) and prenatal (before birth) consultation, fetal monitoring, diabetes education and management, prematurity prevention and nutrition counseling.

For information about the ATU’s tests, please visit www.bridgeporthospital.org/ATU/.

Gwen remembers the crowd of physicians around her bed. “At one point, there were something like seven doctors and nurses in my room,” she says. “The room was so big, no one was elbowing anyone out of the way—not even my husband!” she laughs.

Many pregnant women have questions about the pain and pressures experienced in the different stages of labor. “Whether you’re here having your first or fourth baby, we love to teach you about what to expect and what’s going on,” says Karen Burrows, MAHSM, BSN, RN, CCRN, Nurse Manager in the Labor & Delivery Unit. “We encourage questions. We will explain the equipment, the procedures, the beeps you may hear— anything that’s on a patient’s mind.”

The team is also able to offer women all sorts of ways to relieve the pain of labor. “Some women feel relief in the shower or from sitting, rolling or bouncing on a birthing ball,” says Burrows. “We like to offer women all kinds of options prior to pain medication, if they wish.” (See “Pain Relief During Labor,” below.) Walking can help their labor progress and some women choose to walk around the unit and the family lounge, a comfortable living-room atmosphere with plush seating available for family members to relax. “We also welcome nurse midwives and doulas, who can provide additional comfort or techniques to help with pain or delivery.” When it’s time to deliver, some women request the use of a birthing bar, which is easily connected to the bed, or an alternate position from which to push.

The Birthplace also provides special services for patients with unique needs. For instance, there’s a latex-free room for moms with allergies.

The nurses delight in every birth and can’t resist celebrating each baby born in The Birthplace. Right after birth, babies get a warm hat and are swaddled snugly in a blanket. If it’s a holiday, the tiny cap might have a patriotic theme or be orange and black for Halloween.

“After the baby is born, we all love the Hollywood-red carpet Paparazzi moment,” explains Burrows. “Family are poised outside the door with cameras and some of us, eagerly waiting the big arrival. Finally, the door to Mom’s room swings open and out walks the spouse or birth partner— sometimes with the bundle of joy—with a huge smile. Everyone snaps pictures and applauds. It’s such a proud moment for all of us!”

Mom and Baby are then escorted to the Women’s Care Center (WCC), where they are cared for during the remainder of their stay. The WCC provides moms with home-like postpartum rooms, each with a private bathroom, to recover, rest and bond with Baby. A spouse or family member can stay overnight in a sleeper chair. Natural light streams in through large windows. Wireless internet connections allow parents to use their laptops to e-mail photos of their newborn to family and friends. The hospital’s patient education channel provides special programming about baby care and breastfeeding. The hospital’s new At Your RequestTM Room Service Program (revised Spring 2009) offers everything from lowsalt and low-calorie options to kosher meals. “My husband and I loved the wide variety this time around!” Gwen says.

Pain Relief During Labor

When it comes to medication for pain relief, the Birthplace has anesthesiologists available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Choices of anesthesia include:

  • Epidural anesthesia, a type of regional pain relief in which pain-relieving medication is injected into the space around the lower spinal cord. Patients remain awake and pain free, and may even be able to walk.
  • Spinal anesthesia, which is similar to an epidural, but its effects are felt much faster. Patients may feel numb and will need help to move during the delivery. Spinal anesthesia is used mostly for delivery by cesarean section or when the use of forceps is necessary.
  • Sedation (narcotics or tranquilizers), which can be given as an injection or intravenously. Sedation can help decrease anxiety, improve relaxation and reduce the pain of labor but will not eliminate pain.
  • Local anesthesia, an injection of local anesthetic to numb the perineal area (between the vulva and the rectum) in preparation for delivery.
  • General anesthesia (for emergency deliveries), in which patients remain unconscious through the delivery.

There are also a few congratulatory surprises for moms— but no spoilers here! “We love making moms feel special,” says Eileen Callahan, RNC, BSN, Nurse Manager of the Women’s Care Center.

“Technical expertise is the foundation of everything we do,” says Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology Harold Sauer, MD. “But we never lose sight of the fact that having a baby is one of life’s most thrilling experiences. We’re celebrating right along with Mom!”

“I loved all three of my birth experiences at Bridgeport Hospital,” says Gwen. “The facilities met all my needs. I’m so glad I made the right choice!”

Obstetricians at Bridgeport Hospital

When picking an obstetrician for expert care, be sure to select one who chooses to deliver at Bridgeport Hospital:


Robin Berger, MD
Emily Blair, DO
Judy Boslow, MD
Steven Cassell, MD
Ronika Choudhary, MD
Joseph Cuteri, MD
Robert Deal, MD
Shireen Donaldson-Ramos, MD
Elenita Espina-Lee, MD
Leslie Goldstone-Orly, MD
Julianne Icatar, MD
Lee Jacobs, MD
Julie Laifer, MD
Philip LaMastra, MD
Mark Laser, MD
Linda Padilla, MD
Jose Reyes, MD
Phyliss Shapiro, MD
Donna Sinclair, MD
Sapna Tandon, DO
Kenneth Thomas, MD
Marina Torbey, MD
Peter VanDell, MD
Alla Vash-Margita, MD
Abraham Yaari, MD

If you would like more information about, or a referral to, any of these expert physicians, please visit www.bridgeporthospital.org/FindPhysician or call 1-888-357-2396, toll free, 24/7.

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