A Family Tradition

Birthways at Mary Greeley Medical Center goes the distance for moms, even if they live two hours away.

When a new mom leaves the Birthways unit at Mary Greeley Medical Center, Nyla Carswell will often say to her, "We'll see you next time." When "next time" came around for Amie Bill, Carswell did indeed see her again. Amie had her first child, Hannah, now 4, at the medical center. She returned for the delivery of her second child, Justin, who is now 3. 

But when Bill became pregnant a third time, it seemed unlikely she'd be making a third visit to Birthways. She and her family had moved to a dairy farm near Strawberry Point, more than two hours from Ames. 

Regardless of the distance, Bill knew that her third child would be delivered at Mary Greeley Medical Center. The history she had with the hospital, and with Birthways in particular, was too important to her. 

"I had a kind of complicated pregnancy with Justin. I wanted to know I had the right care, and I've been with Mary Greeley forever," says Bill. "I was familiar with the staff and the doctors. I just decided I was going to make it work."

A Familiar Place

Going to a hospital fairly far from home to have a baby is unusual, says Carswell, R.N., B.S.N., M.P.A., director of Maternal and Child Services. But, then again, familiarity breeds comfort.

"A familiar place takes away some of that fear of the unknown," says Carswell. "We have small turnover, so the chances of seeing a familiar face are pretty high."

"All the ladies are so nice there. I just love it," says Bill. "They treat you with respect and are understanding. They do whatever you need. I didn't think in nine months I'd be able to build that relationship with another hospital."

While living near Ames, Bill worked at an Iowa State University dairy farm. She continued working for the university three days a week even after moving to Strawberry Point. Being in Ames that often certainly helped with her delivery plans, but it was no guarantee she'd be in the city when the big moment arrived. So Bill, her doctor and the Birthways staff planned for just about every situation.

"For example, what if my water were to break while I was at home?" says Bill. "Well, the Mary Greeley staff knew my history and knew I would have more than enough time to get to Ames if this happened."

It isn't too surprising Bill wanted to have her third child at Birthways. More and more expectant moms are coming to Mary Greeley Medical Center to deliver. In 2006 Birthways welcomed 1,136 babies. In 2007 that number rose to 1,324. Last year, Birthways had 1,274 deliveries.

Enhanced Comfort

The medical center was already considering renovations to the Birthways unit but those 2007 statistics meant a change in plans.

"We had a baby boom in 2007, which made us realize that we needed to grow," says Carswell. "So we stepped back to reevaluate what we were doing."

Birthways added Labor, Delivery, Recovery and Post-Partum (LDRP) rooms. The unit's private rooms were redesigned to make them more comfortable.

Birthways now has 13 specially designed, homelike LDRP rooms, with a whirlpool bath to help provide comfort to moms during labor. Other amenities include state-of-the-art labor beds, flat-screen televisions with DVD players and special chairs that convert to beds. The unit's nine regular private rooms also have access to a whirlpool.

Other features of Birthways include two operating rooms for cesarean births; a Level II, four-bed neonatal intensive care unit; two outpatient rooms for women being evaluated for active labor; and a nursery, though babies usually stay in the room with mom.

Bill gave birth to her third child, a healthy son named Shane, in April. She doesn't remember if Carswell said, "We'll see you next time," when she left Birthways with Shane. But it doesn't matter.

"If we have a fourth, we'll definitely have the baby in Ames," says Bill.