JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs

June 16, 1999

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It Takes a Mother's Touch to Build a Birthing Center

--Hopkins Previews $2 Million Labor and Delivery Suite on June 21--

Margaret Siegmeister knows exactly how expectant mothers will feel about the new Birthing Center at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Her son, Sam, was born in the old labor and delivery suite in February 1997. Soon after, she returned to her full-time job as a senior project designer with the Facilities Planning Office -- overseeing the planning for the renovation of the Birthing Center. Her experience as a patient helped her to consolidate the nursing staff's suggestions into a family-friendly, more efficient labor and delivery suite.

Now she's expecting again. While her baby daughter is due to arrive June 24 -- a few weeks too early for the official opening of the remodeled suite on July 19 -- she will be able to take advantage of new postpartum rooms.

Siegmeister, the obstetrics faculty and staff and other administrators at Hopkins will celebrate the opening of the $2 million Birthing Center on Monday, June 21, at 4 p.m. Media are invited.

Before giving birth to Sam, Seigmeister labored in a small room. When the labor continued into the night, a cot was wheeled in so her husband could stay, making the small room seem even tinier. When Siegmeister was ready to give birth, the nurses wheeled her bed down the hall to the operating room. And during recovery, she found it difficult to nurse Sam sitting in the hospital bed.

In the new center, women can labor, deliver and recover all in one of eight LDR rooms (including two suites with dining room furniture). Five observation rooms and 19 postpartum or antepartum rooms are designed in a similar home-like fashion. All rooms have hardwood floors, custom cabinetry, wall coverings and window treatments. They also are outfitted with glider/rockers with footstools for nursing mothers, refrigerators, safes, hand-held showers and hair dryers, and pull-out sleep chairs for visitors to spend the night.

The Birthing Center, covered 24 hours a day by an anesthesiologist, perinatologist and neonatologist, offers such services as on-site breast-feeding support and extensive childbirth education. Obstetricians can view their patients' fetal monitors from several locations within the suite. The center also features:

Opening the center is just one part of a multi-step process to keep Hopkins at the forefront of women's health. In 1997, Hopkins recruited well-known experts in pelvic reconstruction, in-vitro fertilization and gynecologic cancers. Planning is under way for a comprehensive Women's Health Center with expanded services, which will open in the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center. Hopkins' Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics is ranked #1 in the country by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals issue.

The Birthing Center will be co-directed by Drs. Harold Fox, professor, director and chairman of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics; Karin Blakemore, director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine; and Frank Witter, director of Labor & Delivery.


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