When you think of VCU Health, what comes to mind? Perhaps the best place for cancer care, trauma or organ transplantation. Well, it’s time to think again. Today, mothers who have enjoyed wonderful and memorable childbirth experiences at VCU Health are sharing their stories. They’re letting everyone know the many joys and benefits of being a VCU Mom. See what they have to say, and you too may discover that VCU Health is the right place for your family to grow.
We invite you to share your VCU Health birth story with other women and connect with an incredible community of motherhood. Just log on to vcumom.com/share and tell your story. Add a picture or a video. Give a shout-out to your care team. Post a note of encouragement. No matter what you share, you’re bound to make a positive impact.
Share your story during the month of January 2018 for the opportunity to be featured in our VCU Mom ad campaign and for the chance to win an overnight escape for two at the Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia.
Cathy Efird and her OB-GYN, Dr. Frances Casey
With our first child we intended to have a midwife birth. About six weeks before my daughter’s due date, she decided to come early. So we delivered our baby with a resident. And because she was six weeks early, we ended up in the NICU for 11 days. We had a really wonderful experience with the birth. I was able to follow my same birth plan — just as if I were with the midwives. The NICU at VCU Health is wonderful. I was able to stay with my baby the whole time. The nurses taught me everything I needed to know before I went home. When it was time to have our son, there was no question that we were going to have him here at VCU Health.
Mahogany Woolfolk and her doula Ashley Andersen
My experience with the VCU Health midwives and the doulas was absolutely incredible. I actually ended up having three doulas – they were all volunteers from the VCU School of Nursing. And they were there for me when I needed them most. Once the pain started I didn’t know if I could do this. I remember when it was time for me to push, my husband was on one side and my doulas were on the other. It was just nice to have all that love and strength in the room. They gave me support to keep pushing.
Throughout my whole pregnancy and delivery it was wonderful. For my second child, I would definitely come back to the midwives and hopefully have my same doulas. Giving birth is your strongest moment in life and your weakest moment. Having my doulas gave me tremendous strength, and I am so grateful.
One of the things the VCU Health midwives helped me to prepare for was the experience of pain and fear during labor. About two weeks before my due date, I had an appointment with the midwives. I had been thinking about my tolerance for pain and the fact that I had never had surgery, a broken bone or other injury that caused a lot of pain. Leslie, one of the midwives, asked if I had ever had a situation where I experienced a lot of fear. Before I had a baby, I used to rock climb and there were times when I had intense fear. But I was able to work through it. That really helped me reframe how I would cope with the pain and fear of labor. Now I’m pregnant with baby #2. I’m expecting a little boy in April. I will definitely be delivering at VCU Health again!
Mary Beth Abplanalp
When I found out we were pregnant I signed up for birthing classes at VCU Health. We went in with open minds – expecting to hear some things we knew and hoping to learn some more. One of the things that my husband and I found really interesting was the variety of pain management options. At that point, I thought I would have an epidural to manage my labor pain. But in the childbirth class that Valerie taught, we learned that there were a lot of options out there.
For starters, there are comfort measures. I discovered that the tub was really comfortable to use in my late pregnancy, and having that in the delivery room was fabulous. I spent a lot of time in the tub, and that helped me relax and kept my contractions progressing along. We also learned about nitrous oxide — the gas. At the very end of my labor, the nursing staff was encouraging me, telling me how close I was and to hang in there. I needed just a little something to take the edge off. Nitrous was a less invasive option and it provided exactly what I needed to navigate the final transition period. Then I dilated completely and my son was born. He did fabulously and I recovered very quickly. I was so grateful to learn about those options in the childbirth class and was able to deliver naturally after all.
I had my daughter at VCU Health, and an OB-GYN resident delivered her. I had a great experience and feel like I got a lot of attention from the resident. The hospital is close and convenient, and they have an excellent NICU if it is needed. I also took classes there. I really appreciated being at an academic medical center. Their practices are the most up to date and evidence-based. I would definitely recommend VCU to other moms.
Erika Lentini and Dr. Nathan Webb
Erika: I’ve had two babies – both at VCU Health with the midwives. My husband, Nathan, is an OB-GYN at VCU Health. When I found out I was pregnant and everything was progressing nicely, I decided that since I had an OB at home, I might as well switch things up and deliver with the midwives. I loved the idea of an unmedicated birth, having the option of laboring in the tub or shower and moving around before I delivered. My first child was born in 2014, and it was everything I could have ever dreamed a pregnancy and delivery would be. Fortunately, the same thing happened again in 2016.
Nathan: During the second delivery, I learned so much by just being a husband and an observer and disconnecting the doctor side of my brain. Watching my wife was beautiful. Erika had very decided ideas of what she wanted for a delivery, and I knew the midwives could help her achieve it.
Erika: One of the things I loved was the camaraderie between the midwives and the OBs. I chose to deliver with the midwives, but at the end of the day you never know what will happen. They work so well together that I knew if I needed OB care, I would be in good hands. I want to have more babies just to deliver at VCU!
My VCU Health birth was incredible. I woke up in labor and called my midwife. I only live 15 minutes away, but it felt like the longest drive in my life. We got there at 12:30 and I immediately got in the bed. At 12:52 my daughter was born.
Throughout my pregnancy, I felt so supported and heard. My midwife was a listener. She was kind and always in my corner. I could focus on what I needed and what my baby needed. It was truly empowering. The whole experience was magical!
I went to the hospital anticipating a midwife birth, but things didn’t work out that way. I took all the classes, watched the documentaries. I was armed with everything I needed to fulfill my birth plan. But then birth happens. My labor lasted a long time and didn’t progress. So I had to help things along with Pitocin. Shortly after that I had an epidural. The midwives were with me — talking me through everything — which was great. The doctors walked in after 35 hours of labor and were empathetic and incredibly sensitive about what I had been going through. The doctors were almost more determined to have a vaginal delivery, but it just wasn’t in the cards. I was comforted when one of the doctors said, “This is not your normal Monday, but it’s my normal Monday.” Everyone was respectful and supportive. I was an active participant in my baby’s birth. It was not the birth plan I intended at all. But I knew I was in good hands and things turned out well. I have a happy, healthy baby.