A Visit to St. Anthony's Community Hospital Birthing Center

And a downloadable birthing center comparison chart!

Hudson Valley Parent magazine editor, MJ Goff, visited St. Anthony's Community Hospital, specifically, the Kennedy Birthing Center, and visited with Nursing Supervisor and Maternity Consultant, Diane L. DeFreest, RNC. 

Watch Diane tour us through a portion of the birthing center (and then scroll down for the link to your printable, downloadable "Hudson Valley birthing center" amenities chart).

(Diane DeFreest, Nursing Supervisor and Maternity Consultant for St. Anthony's Community Hospital stands beside their "baby wall.")

Diane DeFreest, RNC, and I sat in the lobby of the Kennedy Birthing Center at St. Anthony's Community Hospital. She is the Nursing Supervisor as well as the Maternity Consultant, and sees to most, if not all, of the birthing issues at the hospital, and for over 500 moms a year who have their babies at the Warwick hospital.  We were interrupted by a lullabye that suddenly came over the loudspeakers.  Diane didn't skip a beat and I stopped to ask, thinking it was a time-keeper, or just a bit of piped in muzak.

"No," she said, eyes twinkling, "it means a new baby has come into the world."

For almost 40 years, Diane has been at the hospital doing the overnight shifts, and eventually moving up into this supervisory role.  Because there is no union at St. Anthony's, she has the opportunity to spend time as a nurse, seeing to patients, allowing her to remember what her overall mission is: to see to the care and the safety of her patients, and her patient's baby. 

(The visitor's waiting room.)

Diane walked me through the ultra-clean and clutter-free maternity halls.  "We aren't too full at the moment," she explains, "but it can be feast or famine here."  

When one of the obstetricians contacts Diane about a potential new patient, she gets out a welcome folder immediately.  That folder, she explains, includes all of the hospital's registration forms, healthy history forms, notices about breastfeeding classes and sibling readiness classes and one on ensuring a smooth transition from hospital to home.

Also included are helpful tips about car seats, "You wouldn't believe how many parents come with the car seat still in the box and ask the nurses to help them set it up," says Diane.  "There must be over 100 different car seats on the market, so we tell parents to open it up before the baby arrives, and play with it." A local restaurant provides chef service to the new parents who have been discharged, but are not able to get a meal together. 

(Inside the mom's delivery room, where the baby goes for monitoring after birth.)

One important sheet, provided by a local psychologist who specializes in postpartum depression, lists troubling thoughts a new mom may have that should be addressed. It's a terrific reminder that help is out there.    

Not only do moms get Diane's number -- she checks her voicemail regularly, and on weekends often, "sometimes a new mom can't wait until Monday."  One important function that Diane offers is caring advice on whether or not an issue deserves to be brought to their doctor. "Sometimes moms stress over whether or not to call the doctor, and if they ask me about something that needs medical attention, I will tell them to call their doctor right away. Some moms need that assurance."

Read a bit about one mom's water birth.

While birthing partners and doulas are allowed to be with mom, midwives are not simply because their accreditations have not been verified.  "Every employee, and that would go for a midwife who's job is to assist with medical issues, goes through a process to have their backgrounds checked.  A patient can't just ask that the midwife be at the birth. But doulas are very welcome since they're there for the mom's comfort and support."

Download amenities chart here.

MJ's impressions:  "I had my two daughters at a large hospital on Long Island, and this smaller hospital setting was very cozy. They seem to have thought out many of the amenities I would have liked. But, on balance, when you think of the average time a mom is at the hospital (2 to 3 for vaginal, and up to 4 for c-sections), so the amenities are only a part of the picture. I liked all the pre- and post birth availability of Diane, and the overall nursing department, to be a real partner in this process. When pregnant, you have a gazillion questions, and after the baby comes home, you have a gazillion more. That's where you need to have a responsive ear, and someone who can direct you to the right answer."