Birth experience: Needing ‘super-extraordinary personalized care’

When it came to giving birth, Amanda wasn’t going to settle. That’s why she followed her doctor to UCHealth and delivered at its new hospital.
October 31st, 2017

For the birth of her second child, Amanda Edson got the best of all possible worlds.

She gave birth with a doctor she knew and loved, OB-GYN Dr. Amy Johnson, and in a beautiful new facility that catered to all her birthing preferences.

“Dr. Johnson is super easy to talk to and laid back,” Amanda said. “And last time, she wasn’t even on call the day I went into labor, but she came in and delivered anyway.”

RN Staci Eggen, right, of Longs Peak Hospital, shows Amanda Edson, left, and other expecting families around the hospital’s new birth center.

Amanda gave birth to her first child — a girl — in August 2015.

This time around, Amanda was more versed in the pregnancy and delivery process, and she had a sense of how she wanted the birth to go: with an epidural followed by a lot of breastfeeding support. She didn’t need to take birthing classes this time, but she did have some new questions, like how to prepare her 2-year-old for the new baby.

UCHealth Today will be exploring these topics in the coming months, using its experts to answer your questions — and Amanda’s — on topics related to pregnancy, including pain management, preparing a sibling for No. 2 and breastfeeding support.

For wisdom like that, she turned to Johnson and her partners at UCHealth Women’s Care Clinic, 1925 W. Mountain View Ave., in Longmont.

Meet the UCHealth Longmont OB-GYN team:

Dr. Amy Johnson, along with Dr. Heather Keene, recently joined the OB-GYN team that includes Dr. Patrick Finnegan, Dr. Jenny Kim, Dr. Brian Nelson, Dr. Heidi Promfret, Certified Nurse Practitioner Arlene Gwin and Certified Nurse Midwife Sylvia Fibich.

Johnson is a Colorado native who’s been practicing as an OB-GYN for more than 20 years, mostly in the Longmont community.

She loves bonding with patients like Amanda.

“You get that special connection with the patient when you see them through the whole pregnancy and you don’t want to miss the best part,” she said. “It’s really an honor to get to do what we do. With something like surgery, you still want that great experience, but having a baby is at a different level — you want that super-extraordinary personalized care.”

A bonus: bringing babies into the world in the community’s newest hospital. The 51-bed UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital, at 1750 E. Ken Pratt Blvd. in Longmont, opened Aug. 31, 2017. The third-floor Birth Center has three birthing rooms and nine private postpartum suites. The Level II Special Care Nursery has the ability to care for infants born as early as 34 weeks’ gestation — something Amanda is grateful for now.

Lucas Edson decided to arrive five weeks early and was born Oct. 19 at 4:08 p.m., weighing 5 pounds, 8 ounces and measuring 19.5 inches long.

“It was quite the surprise,” Amanda said.

Amanda said her water broke the night before, so they went to the hospital where they were admitted. Doctors started inducing labor about 11:30 a.m. the next day because of the greater risk for infection once the water has broken. Amanda was still able to get the epidural she wanted. Then, a few hours later — and what she said was really only one big push — Lucas was born.

Although Amanda chose an epidural, the hospital does provide other pain management and birthing options. Through its partnership with the Center for Midwifery at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, it offers water births. And it also offers nitrous oxide to laboring mothers as an in-hospital labor pain relief option — the first in the community to do so.

Nearly 40 babies were born in the first two weeks after the hospital opened.

“Longs Peak Hospital has hired only really experienced nurses, and a patient won’t get better care anywhere else,” Johnson said. “The people are just as important as the building, and combined, the OBs have more than 85 years of experience. This was an experienced group that came together to open this new hospital.”

Personalized care is woven throughout the birth center experience, said LPH Nursing Director Heidi Bradley.

“We fully support patient-family centered care and opened our hospital with a baby-friendly mindset and the goal of becoming certified,” she added.

Baby Friendly-certified hospitals commit to certain practices and standards that have been proven to support a healthy mom and newborn, including uninterrupted breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby in the first hour after birth. Longs Peak Hospital is currently in the certification process.

Lucas spent the first night with his family, but he moved to the nursery after nurses found he was not eating as well as he should. Amanda said she’s stayed with him every night since to continue the bonding process, and she is grateful for the private nursery rooms and amazing staff.

Amanda Edson tours the Birth Center at Longs Peak Hospital in September, prior to the birth of her son, Lucas.

Family support is an important part to a healthy newborn and mother, Bradley said. With this in mind, the nursery and birth center rooms were designed to allow families to stay overnight, and also include a private bathroom and a fold-out bed.

Amanda got her first peek at the center during a family tour of the unit in September.

“We start early, giving moms the tools before the baby gets here so they know about the support available to them when they do deliver and are not overwhelmed,” Johnson said. “The more prepared they are, the more successful they’ll be.”

Johnson and her team play an important role in that mission.

In the early visits, Johnson said it’s important to talk about the process of pregnancy itself: how the body will change, potential complications and the signs and symptom to watch for, what moms-to-be can and shouldn’t be doing.

“We provide the tools to help them have the healthiest pregnancy possible, which includes information on diet and exercise,” she added.

Midway through pregnancy, the team talks to the mom-to-be about the delivery process and suggested birthing and education classes, including one Johnson recommends to all her patients — infant CPR.

Johnson works with her patients to learn more about a mother’s desires and expectations, including what her desired pain medications may be, or whether she wants to pursue a natural birth. The patient can also choose a shower or bath, is also made aware of options to have a shower or – shower or bath, massage, music and who she wants to have in the delivery room with her.

RN Staci Eggen, background, of Longs Peak Hospital, shows Amanda Edso and other expecting families around the hospital’s new birth center during a tour in September 2017, prior to Amanda’s delivery.

“We get to know her ideal birth experience and discuss how we can make that happen,” Johnson said.

The mother’s desires are then recorded into UCHealth’s electronic medical records, ready for the nurses and doctors to review on the big day.

All of UCHealth’s hospitals and clinics are connected through an electronic health record called Epic. This allows for seamless connections among health care professionals, such as a doctor and the lab technicians, or in Amanda’s case, her OB and the hospital where she’s delivering. The records are accessible through My Health Connection, Epic’s patient portal, and eliminate the need to preregister at the hospital in preparation for delivery.

Amanda said it’s been “super nice” to have My Health Connection, as she was able to see her appointments and lab work results and look over invoices. It helped her organize during a time when there’s a lot to get done.

“Everything seemed to be going a lot faster this time around, and probably because I was preoccupied with my little one — not spending my days lounging on the couch but instead crouched over a little table or on the floor playing,” she said with a smile.

Although Amanda hadn’t quite finished packing her hospital bag by the time Lucas decided he was ready to come into the world, she is grateful for him and the support she had from UCHealth in navigating his birth.