Advances in care for local women with pregnancy complications

HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) — All this week, Good Morning Richmond is highlighting healthy living where you live and talking about women’s health.

For many families expecting a baby, their worst fear is that something could go wrong. But with new tools and treatment options, having a complicated pregnancy isn’t always as scary as it once was.

Stephanie Scott has two boys and is now expecting twins. She went into labor early. The doctors were able to stop it, but now she could be in the hospital for up to five months before she delivers her babies.

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“It’s like a second residence pretty much because my kids come up here a few days out the week. My husband stays a lot and my family and friends come, so it has its days,” Scott said. “On days it’s rough I just stare out my little window and just sleep.”

The room Scott spent so much time in is bright and cheery. It’s still decorated from her birthday.

“The nurses — they came, all the staff came in here and sang Happy Birthday and gave me a cake. I was like ‘oh my gosh,'” Scott said. “It was so sweet! It’s like I’ve gained a new family, to be honest.”

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Scott is one of the patients in the unit for high-risk pregnancies at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital called the high risk/antepartum unit for issues like gestational diabetes, sickle cell, and many others.

“The patient who is pregnant and had a diagnosis from their obstetrician that may impact a healthy outcome for their pregnancy,” said Yvette Dorsey, an OBGYN Specialty Nurse Manager at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital. “They may need a little closer monitoring. We take care of a wide range of complex high-risk pregnant patients.”

Now at that unit at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, they have private rooms, advanced ultrasounds, and teams of experts on hand ready to handle a variety of possible issues.

“The philosophy here at the Women’s Hospital is that we want to make sure that despite whatever high-risk diagnosis that they may have or that their physician has given them is that they still have those options and choices to really have a safe healthy pregnancy,” Dorsey said.

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And that specialty care goes beyond the pregnancy. Once babies are delivered, the NICU is right nearby.

“The one thing you don’t want is for a mom to have to travel in distance to see her baby in the ICU setting and so we have that here,” Dorsey said.

The NICU will soon have private rooms, too.

“With the neonatal intensive care, we’re able to provide those moms with specialized care in private rooms, and it offers them that option and that choice to really be able to care for their baby and care for their family in a way that’s soothing for them,” Dorsey said.

The NICU Medical Director Alan Picarillo said those private rooms can lead to more family bonding and more comfort for people with children in the NICU.

“The toughest day for most families is the day that the mother and father are discharged from the hospital and they have to leave their baby in the care of essential strangers. So we’re hoping by having this spot where moms and dads can stay in the room with the infants, it will really help the bonding happen after the delivery process,” Picarillo said.

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He said the Henrico Doctors’ Hospital NICU has a multidisciplinary team who have spent their whole careers taking care of babies. Their focus is now family-centered care, and that means meeting with families before the delivery to come up with a plan if their baby is admitted to the NICU.

“We meet with the families and we truly involve the families in the care of their babies,” he said. “Even the smallest babies, moms and dads can still participate in the care — whether it’s changing the diaper, assisting in feeds, or even doing skin to skin where the baby will do skin to skin contact with the mom and dad.”

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The NICU is in a temporary spot now, but in September or October, they plan to open their new NICU with private rooms and new state of the art technology, which will be great for families.

“They can spend more time in the room and potentially even stay overnight so they don’t have to leave their baby’s side,” Picarillo said.

As for Scott, there’s one thing she’s looking forward to during her delivery. “To hear them scream and cry and to be home… to be home with healthy babies,” she said.

 

Questions for Henrico Doctors about high-risk pregnancies:

Q: Are there risk factors for a high-risk pregnancy that women should look out for?

A: Yes. As women get older their risk for pregnancy complications increases. Women who gain well over the recommended amount of weighty are at a higher risk for complications. Other factors that affect pregnancy are pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure, clotting problems, infections, and other medical conditions. Twins and higher number multiples increase risk as well.

Q: If you’re trying to get pregnant are there things to do ahead of time to try to have a healthy pregnancy?

A: Taking prenatal vitamins with folate, and eating a balanced nutritious diet are important things a woman can do to optimize a healthy pregnancy. If you are significantly overweight, losing weight may help stave off serious pregnancy complications. Avoiding medication unless cleared by a provider, and avoiding alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes are essential things a woman can do to keep her baby safe from the earliest days of pregnancy.

Q: Once pregnant, what are some warning signs that you may be having an abnormal/high-risk pregnancy?

A: Severe headaches, high fever, vomiting with significant weight loss, abdominal pain, and bleeding are not normal and should be reported to your provider.

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