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Midwife Sarah Sutton, physician Gayle Moyer at St. Joseph Mercy Family Birth Center

St. Joe's Birth Center

All in the family

by Anita LeBlanc

From the August, 2018 issue

Six weeks after giving birth to her son at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor's Labor and Delivery department, physician Gayle Moyer went to work there. Twenty-eight years later, Moyer is now the medical director of obstetrics at St. Joe's Family Birth Center. The name change in 2004 reflects a growing trend toward family involvement in pregnancy and delivery.

The husbands or partners of mothers were among the first to provide family support in the delivery room, followed by female relatives. In the last few years, though, Moyer's seen more males, including one recent delivery where a first-time mother's "husband was in the room, her mother was in the room, and his mother and father were in the room!"

With the support of the center's obstetricians, midwives, social workers, and nursing staff, 3,812 babies were born in 2017 at St. Joe's. The center boasts twelve labor, delivery, and recovery rooms, a neonatal intensive care unit for premature babies, four perinatal rooms for high-risk patients who need more monitoring and medication before and after birth, six antepartum rooms for pre-birth moms who are not high-risk enough to deliver early, but not stable enough to go home; seven OB emergency department rooms, and three operating rooms used mostly for C-section deliveries. There are thirty-four private mother-baby rooms for what is usually a twenty-four hour stay after recovery.

The Family Birth Center also has lactation support specialists and a donor breast milk program is available for full-term well babies whose mothers can't supply breast milk.

The St. Joe's center was the first in southeastern Michigan to begin offering nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas) in 2015 for laboring women. "For a lot of women, that is enough just to get them through," Moyer says. "And even if it's not, it can help them get further enough into their labor before they even think of an epidural."

"The thing that's great about it is it wears off immediately," adds midwife Sarah Sutton. "You use it for an individual contraction." The mother administers her own dose. �x0D

"And the joke is always the dads, like, 'Can I have some?' And we say, 'No, just the mom.'"     (end of article)


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