Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Maternity and Babies
Luxury birthing options

by Rebecca Todd

July 01, 2011

Over 4 million babies were born in the United States last year. Fortunately for those in the Indianapolis area, growing families have access to advanced technologies, procedures and medical attention.

There are a number of factors to take into account when you choose a hospital. Many women choose a hospital based on their OB/GYN’s preference and/or the distance from the hospital to their home. Though these are both important factors, there are many other things to consider.

It is important to find out as much information as possible about local maternity wards before making a choice. Visiting the hospital and knowing what to expect can do wonders to alleviate fears and concerns of expectant parents.

St. Vincent Carmel Hospital is currently undergoing a 28,000-square-foot renovation of the rooms and amenities in their maternity program. The renovation includes of private, spacious bathrooms, enhancement to exam rooms as well as a renovation to the labor and delivery rooms and the newborn intensive care area.

St. Vincent offers community tours at 6 p.m. every Tuesday night in the OB waiting room at Carmel. Private tours through the Monogram Maternity Program are available with a pre-delivery appointment with an OB nurse. Many classes from baby care to Lamaze and sibling classes are also offered.

Patients deliver in an LDR (Labor, Delivery and Recovery) room, and are then transferred to a new postpartum room. “We find our families enjoy moving to a new room after they have completed their delivery process where they focus on resting and learning to care for their newborn and selves the next couple of days,” said Michelle Slayman, clinical director of OB services at St. Vincent Carmel Hospital.

Franciscan St. Francis Hospital Health offers prenatal birthing classes, sibling classes and breastfeeding classes as well as tours of the OB units on Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. The hospital has 15 private rooms for labor, delivery and recovery (LDR) available, as well as 21 private postpartum rooms and eight private antepartum rooms.

Despite open visitation, security in nursery and maternity areas is taken very seriously at Franciscan St. Francis Health. “We use HUGS® as our security system,” explained Angela Bratina, assistant director of nursing. “Each baby is banded immediately after birth with ID bands that are compared to parents. They are also banded with a HUGS device which alarms if tampered with or if the infant is removed from the unit.”

Umbilical cord blood is special because it contains stem cells; specialized cells that can be used in the treatment of many diseases. Cord blood banking is often done at St. Francis, however, patients are responsible for making their own arrangements and supplying their own cord blood kits. “We do have some kits available if they decide at the last minute to bank the cord blood,” explained Bratina. “We also work with Endgenitor which is a company doing research on cord blood stem cells. Each patient is asked if they would like to participate in this program and at that point consents are signed.”

According to Lisa Crane, childbirth education coordinator for Indiana University Health, tours of their maternity wards are scheduled twice a month and can be arranged to fit busy schedules (evening and weekend tours are available). Many classes are also available including Lamaze, “Hypno Baby,” sibling birth classes and refresher courses, at a number of locations (a full list of classes and online registration is available at IU Health is open to many birthing methods and will work with parents’ special needs and desires.

According to Erin Kirby, manager of labor and delivery for IU Health, water birth and therapy is an option and certified midwives and doulas are on staff. Doulas also offer Spanish interpretation as 20% of patients at IU Health require this service.

As with most hospitals, special care is taken with infant security. “We have infant security as well as a locked down environment with ID access only for the OB area at Methodist,” said Kim Ehlers, clinical manager, Mother/Baby, Indiana University Health Women’s Services. “There is one main entrance to the area for visitors and patients which is monitored by a Patient Visitor Representative.”

One unique service offered by IU Health is the Mother/Baby Connection, available to those who live in Marion and the surrounding counties. A few days after new mothers arrive home with their babies, a nurse will visit the home to provide follow up examinations of both mother and child and to answer any questions parents may have. This service is provided free of charge.

Riverview Hospital of Noblesville offers tours every other Sunday at 6 p.m. Many classes are also offered. “We offer a standard 5 week childbirth education class as well as a condensed version that meets on one weekend on Friday night and Saturday morning,” said Patty Schweitzer, interim manager of maternity services at Riverview. “We also offer a positive positioning class that is geared towards mothers wanting to have a natural childbirth, a class named ‘Mommy’s Having a Baby’ to help prepare siblings to welcome their new brother or sister, and we also offer a breastfeeding class.”

Despite open visitation policies, Riverview uses multiple security measures. “We have a locked, secure unit that is constantly monitored,” said Schweitzer. “We also use the KidMatch system, which uses barcodes on bands that the mother and baby wear to ensure that they are matched properly.” For more information, visit

Community Health Network, located on the North, South and East sides of Indianapolis as well as in Anderson, offers a unique maternity experience at each location. Community Hospital East features 13 large private suites with beautiful artwork and a Level II special care nursery. Community Hospital South has 14 private, spacious suites with abundant light and whirlpool tubs. Midwife deliveries and a Level II special care nursery are available. Community Hospital Anderson offers state-of-the-art labor suites with whirlpools and midwife and doula services available.

Community Hospital North is an excellent choice for all pregnancies and births, as it serves as the network referral center for maternal fetal medicine and offers Level III neonatal intensive care. Sixty maternity suites (with special rooms for natural childbirth) and 36 neonatal intensive care suites are available. “These are truly suites,” said Jan Schoonveld, R.N., director of maternity services at Community Hospital North. “They all have [kitchenettes] and space for daddy to rest as well.” Tours are available.

Community Health Network also has a plethora of helpful information online including class schedules, advice, resources and much more. Visit to see all that is available.

Doing research and knowing what to expect can alleviate tension for new parents. Indianapolis area hospitals have what it takes to make bringing your baby into the world the relaxing and joyous experience it should be.