Penn Ob/Gyn Care

Birthing Suite at Pennsylvania Hospital Frequently Asked Questions

Expectant couples seeking a homelike atmosphere for their birth experience have an excellent delivery alternative at Pennsylvania Hospital's Birthing Suite.

What are the special advantages of the Birthing Suite at Pennsylvania Hospital?

Because the Birthing Suite is located within Pennsylvania Hospital and adjacent to the labor and delivery unit, mothers have immediate access to the hospital's intensive care nursery and emergency care if necessary. In addition, other members of your family can be with you in the suite along with your primary support person. If you choose to receive an epidural or require other advanced interventions during labor and delivery, you will move to a standard labor and delivery room and the same provider will continue to care for you.

Who provides my prenatal care and my care during labor and delivery?

Prenatal care and care during labor and delivery is provided by certified nurse-midwives and/or obstetricians, depending on your choice. Women using the Birthing Suite can choose among several nurse-midwife or physician practices.

Pennsylvania Hospital's obstetrical health providers believe that birth is a natural and normal process. They take a personal approach to childbirth, stressing the importance of educational and emotional support for the parents. You will receive comprehensive care during your pregnancy, including childbirth education, nutrition and exercise counseling, breastfeeding instruction and early parenting information.

What is a certified nurse-midwife?

Certified nurse-midwives are highly educated professionals who are licensed as registered nurses. They are certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives after successfully completing post-graduate work and national certification examinations. Through their extensive training and education, nurse-midwives are qualified to serve as experts in normal pregnancy and childbirth. Nurse-midwives work in conjunction with obstetricians who are available in case complications arise.

How long do I stay in the Birthing Suite?

You may use the Birthing Suite for as long as your labor and delivery take to progress naturally. Your nurse-midwife or physician will be with you in the Birthing Suite from active labor until after your baby is born.

After you give birth, your baby can remain in your room with you while a nurse conducts a brief examination. Once recovery time is completed, you and your baby will be transferred to the postpartum care unit. During your stay in the hospital, your nurse-midwife or physician will continue to manage your care. You may have your baby with you as much as you like.

Who is eligible to deliver in the Birthing Suite?

Any healthy woman who is experiencing a low-risk, uncomplicated pregnancy may choose to use the Birthing Suite. The National Association of Childbearing Centers estimates that 85 percent of women giving birth are eligible to use a birthing center.

What other options do I have for having my baby at Pennsylvania Hospital?

In addition to the Birthing Suite, Pennsylvania Hospital offers a full range of maternity services, including:

  • Labor, Delivery and Recovery rooms: These home-like facilities, with advanced obstetrical equipment and private baths, offer mothers the convenience of staying in the same room before and during birth, and for a short period after delivery.

  • Neonatal Nursery and Level III Intensive Care Nursery: We offer a traditional neonatal nursery and a Level III Intensive Care Nursery, which currently has 45 beds, including intensive care and transitional care sections. Pennsylvania Hospital has one of the largest level III ICNs (the highest care level) in the Philadelphia region and is staffed by physicians from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and nurses who specialize in infant intensive care.

  • Breastfeeding Education and Support: Pennsylvania Hospital offers the most comprehensive breastfeeding assistance program in the Philadelphia region. Breastfeeding classes are offered before and during your stay. Solutions for Women, a women's health boutique, is available to assist you with breastfeeding after you leave the hospital. In addition, a lactation consultant will visit you during your hospital stay to assist you with breastfeeding questions and techniques.

  • Experienced Staff: Pennsylvania Hospital's team of skilled professionals includes certified nurse-midwives, obstetricians, perinatologists, pediatricians, neonatologists, registered nurses, social workers and genetic counselors. Together they provide family-centered obstetrical care to meet your special needs.

Do I need to stay in bed during labor and birth?

No. At the Birthing Suite, we encourage you to walk around and move about as you choose during labor. You can choose the positions that are most comfortable and work best for you during labor and birth. We use a hand-held, portable, waterproof Doppler to listen to the baby's heartbeat during labor, so your movements are not limited by an electronic fetal monitor strapped to your belly.

Who can be with me during labor and birth?

You can have the support people of your choice with you while you are in the Birthing Suite. There is no age limit for your younger helpers, but children under 12 years of age need to have their own 'support person' designated to them in case they have questions or need special attention while you are laboring. You are also welcome and encouraged to have a doula or specially trained labor support person with you during your labor and birth.

Can I eat and drink when I am in labor?

Unless you are nauseated or vomiting, we encourage you to drink fluids such as water and juices throughout labor. If you are feeling hungry during labor, we encourage you to eat small, low-fat meals/snacks for energy such as energy bars, crackers, clear soups and fruit. Feel free to bring your favorite snacks or drinks for yourself and your support people.

How do you help mothers feel as comfortable as possible during labor?

During labor, we encourage you to get into different positions and walk around. We have a birthing ball, a birthing stool and a private bathroom with a shower in each room. You can wear your own clothes and are welcome to bring a music player with you. We use heat packs, massage, accupressure and breathing techniques to help you stay as comfortable as possible without medication. If you choose to take pain medicine, we can usually give you pain medicine intravenously or in a shot in the Birthing Suite.

What happens if I decide to have an epidural or require other advanced interventions during labor and delivery?

During labor and delivery some women may choose to receive an epidural or require other advanced interventions, such as administration of Pitocin or fetal monitoring. Your obstetrician or nurse-midwife will strive to make this transition as seamless as possible. You will move to a standard labor and delivery room to receive the epidural or whatever advanced interventions are necessary, and the same provider will continue to care for you.

Does everybody need to have an IV? Routine blood drawn?

No. In the Birthing Suite, there is no 'routine' preparation, IV or blood draws. However, if an IV or blood draws are medically necessary, we are able to do them quickly and easily.

If I need to have my labor 'induced' or started with medications, can I still deliver in the Birthing Suite?

If your provider tells you that there is a medical reason that you or your baby need to be monitored continuously, then the Labor and Delivery Unit is the best place for you to deliver your baby. When you are receiving labor inducing medications, such as Pitocin, your contractions and the baby's heart rate need to be continuously monitored the entire time the medication is being given.

Sometimes, labor can be started with medications and then the medications can be stopped as your body kicks in naturally with strong regular contractions. We evaluate on a case by case basis whether these people can be moved from a standard labor and delivery room to the Birthing Suite to birth their baby.

What happens if there's an emergency in the Birthing Suite?

Because the Birthing Suite is located within Pennsylvania Hospital and adjacent to the labor and delivery unit, mothers have ready access to emergency care if necessary.

How can I have my baby in the Birthing Suite?

The Birthing Suite is designed for mothers experiencing healthy, low-risk pregnancies with healthy babies seeking natural childbirth. Talk to your provider at your next prenatal visit to see if the Birthing Suite is an appropriate delivery option for you. To schedule a tour of the Birthing Suite or Labor and Delivery Unit, please call 800-789-PENN (7366) or Family Education at 215-829-5020.

Where is the Birthing Suite located?

Pennsylvania Hospital
Preston Building, 3rd Floor
801 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
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