Atrium Medical Center to open new natural birth center

Atrium Medical Center will open a natural birth center next year at its Middletown location, providing expecting mothers services to cope with labor without traditional interventions.

Construction on the Natural Beginnings Birth Center is set to start in October and be completed in spring 2017.

The project’s $1.4 million cost includes renovation of 7,200 square feet of space, including patient rooms for the new services as well as the renovation of the waiting area in Atrium’s Family Birth Center, plus the cost of new equipment and fixtures, according to Chelsey Levingston, spokeswoman for Atrium Medical Center.

When the renovation is complete, two rooms will be dedicated to Natural Beginnings, a program that started accepting patients Thursday and will see its first deliveries in December.

Atrium officials said the program is unique because of its holistic program of care, offering a combination of labor-coping services to ease delivery, along with childbirth education classes before birth, options for ongoing education following delivery, and certified nurse midwives on staff trained to care for a woman during pregnancy and childbirth.

Opening the program in Middletown puts the services closer to Cincinnati patients, Atrium officials said.

“Currently, we have individuals that travel outside of this area to obtain this birthing experience, so as a (medical center) in this area we wanted to make sure we can provide that service so individuals do not have to travel outside of this area to obtain that,” said Betty Love, associate chief nursing officer of Atrium Medical Center.

The program is valuable for low-risk pregnant women because numerous mothers are opting to deliver at home, said Stacy Hudepohl, a nurse midwife at the center.

“We want to track that population because we want to give them that environment but also provide them with the safety net of being within (Atrium Medical Center),” Hudepohl said.

The center will be separate from the Atrium’s labor and delivery area and will be a “more hands-off than hands-on” option with the ability to provide emergency care, if necessary, according to Dr. Rhonda Washington, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Atrium Medical Center.

“There is no electronic fetal monitoring, which is pretty much what every hospital uses,” said Washington, physician liaison for the Natural Beginnings Birth Center. “We will be able to do hydrotherapy, which is having people labor in water and if they wish to deliver in water, they are able to do so in a jacuzzi-like tub.”

Deliveries will take place in a home-like environment that includes a family sitting area, a queen bed and a refrigerator and a jacuzzi tub.

Natural Beginnings will be the second natural birth center operated by Dayton-based Premier Health system, which opened Family Beginnings at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton in 1995.

In 2015, approximately 850 babies were born at Atrium Medical Center, which is operated by Premier Health. Atrium is Middletown’s second largest employer, with more than 1,500 employees.

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