Virtua Welcomes 9,000+ New Babies for Second Consecutive Year in 2022
January 20, 2023 - For the second year, Virtua Health welcomed more than 9,000 new babies in 2022. Specifically, the health system delivered 9,105 babies, just four shy of the record-setting milestone of 2021.
Health System Reaffirms Commitment to Holistic, Safe Care on Maternal Health Awareness Day – January 23, 2023
For the second year in a row, Virtua Health welcomed more than 9,000 new babies in 2022. Specifically, South Jersey's largest health system delivered 9,105 babies, just four shy of the record-setting milestone of 2021. Virtua has mother-baby units at three of its five hospitals and also provides a natural birth experience at its freestanding Midwifery Birth & Wellness Center in Voorhees, which opened in late 2021.
"We love being a part of so many families' stories,” said Nicole Lamborne, MD, Virtua’s vice president of clinical operations for women’s health and a practicing OB/GYN physician. “While we celebrate these big numbers, we keep in mind that every patient, every child is distinct with distinct needs. Our goal is to provide exceptional birth experiences and to keep all of our new mothers and babies safe and healthy."
Because of its commitment to safe, equitable, and inclusive care experiences, Virtua participates in Maternal Health Awareness Day every year, which is a day dedicated to helping people learn about the maternal mortality crisis in the United States and what can be done to reduce the health risks to women giving birth.
Many people would be shocked to discover that the United States is the only “developed” country with a rising maternal mortality rate – and that approximately 80% of those maternal deaths are preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fortunately, recent data from the New Jersey Hospital Association shows a steady decline in unnecessary cesarean section (C-section) births, and a decline in pregnant women requiring treatment for hypertension and hemorrhage in New Jersey. C-section rates declined 14% from 2016 to 2021, which equates to 10,000 fewer C-sections. The main causes of maternal death are C-section complications, hypertension, infection, and excessive bleeding during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or postpartum.
“Virtua has expert staff and the processes and protocols in place to identify and treat conditions that can endanger the life of a new mother,” explained Dr. Lamborne. “These protocols are the result of our work to apply critical thinking, to discern the most appropriate care plan, and to ensure equity. We have found new, effective techniques to identify potential problems earlier, and we quickly address those problems to ensure the best outcomes.”
Communication between patients and medical providers is particularly important during labor and delivery, which is why Virtua also participates in the TeamBirth NJ Initiative, a state program developed to close those gaps in communication. As the name suggests, TeamBirth allows the entire care team, including the patient and their support person, to play an active role in shared decision-making. Frequent huddles with the patient during labor and delivery will ensure that all team members are aware of the patient’s preferences, symptoms, and experiences, so that clear expectations can be set. This patient-centric initiative ensures that people giving birth and the clinicians who are caring for them have shared input and understanding into decisions during labor and delivery.
“A Very Scary Situation” – A Patient’s Story
Kasey Hewitt, 31, from Winslow Township, NJ, is the mother of three healthy young children. The births of her children were some of the most “magical” experiences of Kasey’s life. Those wonderful experiences helped her make the decision to become a surrogate for a couple who were experiencing fertility issues.
“I knew that surrogacy would be an emotional experience,” she said. “I never knew how much could go wrong based on my previous three healthy pregnancies and deliveries.”
From the beginning of the surrogacy, Kasey was considered high-risk because she was carrying twins. She experienced hyperemesis, extreme nausea and vomiting, throughout the entire pregnancy. She eventually needed to carry a pump of anti-nausea medication with her wherever she went. She also developed migraines and gestational hypertension.
Kasey was scheduled for a planned C-section at 37 weeks because both babies were in the breech position. She delivered a baby boy and a girl weighing 7 pounds, 10 ounces and 6 pounds, 8 ounces, respectively – considered large for twins. Soon after delivery, Kasey felt “funny.” A nurse quickly took her blood pressure and assessed that Kasey was hemorrhaging. The protocols to stop the hemorrhaging were enacted and, after the bleeding was under control, Kasey was taken to Virtua’s high-risk maternity unit where she spent four days recuperating. The doctors explained that delivering the twins and two placentas created two large wounds in her uterus that caused excessive bleeding.
“I am so thankful for the Virtua team,” Kasey said. “Their reaction was instantaneous, which saved my life.”
Unfortunately, that was not the only complication Kasey experienced after delivery. After being home for 24 hours, she began to have trouble breathing. A trip back to Virtua identified postpartum pre-eclampsia (elevated blood pressure). Left untreated, this condition can cause a stroke and death. She was given a magnesium drip for 24 hours to lower her blood pressure and then breathing treatments. If that wasn’t enough, Kasey was also diagnosed with influenza and pneumonia. After 10 days in the hospital, she was medically cleared to go home. Six weeks after that, she also had her gallbladder removed, which physicians believe could also be linked to her pregnancy.
“As a social worker who works with maternity patients, I knew that these conditions existed,” she explained. “But, based on my other three pregnancies, I just didn’t think it would happen to me. I guess I was the perfect storm of complications.”
Kasey has completely recovered from her difficult pregnancy and delivery and hasn’t ruled out having more children, as she has always wanted a big family. Her experience has also opened a new career path for her. She has received the necessary training to be a certified birthing doula and will soon be a certified postpartum doula, as well.
“A lot of expectant mothers wish they knew more. I want them to feel empowered and supported by someone who has experienced all that childbirth can bring,” she said. “Birth is an amazing thing to witness, and I am proud to have experienced all of my pregnancies. Not just babies are born, mothers are, too.”