UNMCs New Baby Place Provides Home-like Comfort for Sharing Birth of New Family Member

The University of Nebraska Medical Center’s new state-of-the-art birthing center, the Baby Place, opened Saturday, March 8. Families can experience the birth of a new family member in a comfortable, home-like setting, with the piece of mind that health professionals specializing in high-risk births are readily available if needed.

The 15,000-square-foot Baby Place provides private rooms where the mother-to-be and her birth partner can experience labor, delivery and recovery in the same room. The area is located in University Hospital at 45th and Emile Streets.

“This project represents an overdue upgrade of our labor and delivery area,” said Carl Smith, M.D., chairman of UNMC’s obstetrics and gynecology department.

Teresa Berg, M.D., ob/gyn physician who specializes in high-risk births, said the facility will give UNMC a look that complements its reputation as a major regional provider of high-risk obstetrical and neonatology services. “UNMC can offer a lot of things other hospitals can’t offer,” Dr. Berg said. “The biggest thing is the baby will no longer be rushed out of the room if there’s a problem. They will be cared for in the room, preventing separation of baby and family.”

Nurses roles have changed to provide more one-on-one time with the family for education and identifying potential medical problems before the family leaves the hospital, said Peg Lorkovic, R.N., assistant patient care manager. UNMC serves a large high-risk population with its obstetrical and neonatology services and has become a referral center for high-risk mothers and premature infants. The new area also benefits medical residents and students who will now train in an environment that is similar to what they will experience when they leave UNMC.

Eight private rooms within the secured unit will be decorated in cherry wood furniture, wooden floors, and concealed, indirect lighting and lamps for a relaxed atmosphere. Wallpaper colors include soft plum, green and beige. Custom wall units will conceal the latest medical technology. Three rooms will contain jacuzzis for before delivery relaxation for low-risk patients who choose, said Martha Groggel, UNMC nurse midwife. Water makes labor go faster, is comforting and relaxes the woman during and after labor, she said.

“Birth is another developmental stage in our lives,” said Groggel. “This provides women and their families another option.”

Rooms will include separate music systems, TVs and VCRs, which can be used for entertainment or educational purposes. Heated bassinets will replace overhead lights to keep newborns warm after birth. Newborns will be in view of the family at all times, even for tests or procedures performed on the newborn.

“When the family’s in the room, it’s theirs from the time they enter until they’re discharged,” said Groggel. “We want them to be comfortable. Whatever we can do to make the process a family affair, that’s great.”

The Baby Place also offers classes for those planning to become parents, expectant parents, and new parents. Classes include topics such as lamaze, childbirth education, infant care, breastfeeding and a class for siblings. For more information about the Baby Place, call (402) 559-4441.