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Modern Birth Experience at Mills-Peninsula

Janine and Scott Axe got to know their twins Guillermo John and Gregory James before they were born.

“We had already named them and knew who was who when we saw them in the ultrasound,” Scott said.

Yet, when Janine had a Cesarean section, the babies may have come in reverse of the predicted order, Janine explained.

“Greg was probably supposed to be Guillermo.”

Nonetheless, the newborns are healthy and content, which is all that matters to the 44-year-old store manager and his wife, 35, who assists at a medical office near Mills-Peninsula’s Family Birth Center where the twins were born.

Their birth was a mix of modern science and medicine, beginning with their in vitro conception and ending with the C-section. Ultrasound revealed that the lower baby was in a breech position as labor began. According to their Mills-Peninsula obstetrician, Janie Sze, M.D., the last several decades have made a significant difference in the way families experience childbirth.

“Obviously, we’ve made great strides in the areas of fertility, genetic testing and ultrasound technology,” she said. “We have many more options to help ensure a healthy outcome. The use of regular ultrasound has helped doctors understand how far along the pregnancy is so they can better determine if the baby is preterm or past due, or whether there are any abnormalities or complications before going into labor,” she said.

Yet, one of the biggest changes over the last 50 years has occurred in the expectant mother’s own philosophy, says Andrew Jurow, M.D. , an OB-GYN physician who chaired the department at Mills-Peninsula for more than a decade.

“Women are much more involved in the birthing process,” he said. “They want less intervention, even if they use pain medication.”

“You have a lot of options for pain management in labor now with breathing and relaxation techniques, non-medical approaches such as the birthing ball, walking, shower or bath,” Dr. Sze said. “And if women want something for pain, they can choose intravenous medication or an epidural.”

In fact, as the epidural became safer, more women turned away from completely natural childbirth, which was the trend some 15 years ago, Dr. Jurow said.

“In many ways, advances in pain control have helped women contribute and stay aware, even during a C-section.”

Janine Axe was awake throughout the birth of her twins, and Scott was at the head of the bed with the anesthesiologist as they were delivered. Yet, Drs. Sze and Jurow refer to the not-so distant past when women delivered under twilight sleep, and fathers showed up once the baby was bathed and swaddled. Both doctors are second-generation OB-GYN physicians. They remember their fathers’ expertise with manual manipulations and the use of forceps.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there has been a 90 percent decrease in infant mortality and a 99 percent decrease in maternal mortality over the past century. Yet, a recent report by the same organization showed current U.S. infant mortality rates lagging behind 29 other countries. Mills-Peninsula’s quality scores are above the national average.

Dr. Jurow believes much can be done to ensure that all U.S. women are getting prenatal medical care and education. And when it comes to the science of childbirth?

“I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface,” he says. “It will be interesting to see where we are 50 years from now. I believe we will have even better pain relief methods and more sophisticated ways of preventing and predicting problems.”

However, medical science has always been just a part of the experience. As hospitals have kept up with the latest medical advances, they’ve also evolved to accommodate changing personal attitudes. Labor and delivery rooms have become more comfortable for mother and family. Metal stools have been replaced with rocking chairs and sofas.

“Today’s hospital setting provides all the medical resources in an atmosphere where you can have family members participate in this wonderful event and provide support,” Dr. Sze said.

Both doctors look forward to practicing in the new Family Birth Center when the new Mills-Peninsula Medical Center opens on May 15, 2011. Families will enjoy spacious, private rooms with fresh air and nearby gardens. Mothers will be able to walk around while wireless fetal monitoring continues uninterrupted.

“One of the strongest points of the Mills-Peninsula Family Birth Center is our nursing staff,” Dr. Jurow said. “As much as mothers benefit from medicine, they also want to relate to people, and our nurses have both the expertise and the positive outlook that make a real difference.”

Mills-Peninsula’s Family Birth Center consistently scores at the top in the nation for patient satisfaction.

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