In one of the suites in the Natural Birth Center, Mark Pappalardo held his newborn son, Mark, in his arms.
The room was quiet, with the Pappalardos having the entire space to themselves. The LaGrange Park family was the first to have a child born in Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital’s Natural Birth Center, on Aug. 29, a few days before its official opening.
Elizabeth Pappalardo was looking to have a water birth, and she was going to go to Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, she said. The hospital offers water birth there. But when she went into labor, her midwife suggested she go to Adventist La Grange Memorial instead.
Both the suites in the Natural Birth Center have large inflatable tubs suitable for water birth.
Pappalardo tried the tub, but got too warm to stay with it, she said. Her labor went quickly, as well, so even by the time she arrived, she was very close to delivery.
Fortunately, her room had another amenity available to help her deliver her baby.
“It was nice to be able to walk over to the queen-sized bed instead of a hospital bed,” Elizabeth Pappalardo said.”
The couple gave birth to their first child at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital two years ago. The experience was a good one, Mark Pappalardo said. But the Natural Birth Center had its advantages.
“It didn’t feel like a hospital,” he said. “It felt like being at home.”
The Natural Birth Center was slated for an official opening Sept. 1. But the timing of the Pappalardo’s birth was perfect, said Laura Vorgic, obstetrics educator and informatics nurse liaison with Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.
“She was due, and we were ready,” Vorgic said. “We were very excited to have her.”
Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital hosted an open house for the Natural Birth Center on Sunday, Sept. 15, welcoming the community in to view the space.
“We are very happy to offer these services to the community,” said Mary Murphy, vice president and chief nursing officer. “It is a wonderful complement to the full range of women’s services that we offer at our hospital.”
Beth Helme-Smith, a certified nurse midwife with OMG Women’s Healthcare, was the midwife who worked with the Pappalardos. OMG Women’s Healthcare and its Natural Birth Midwives division has partnered with Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital on the establishment of the Natural Birth Center.
“It was fabulous,” Helme-Smith said of the first birth. “I actually got to do the first birth and the third birth there, and the patients were all really happy. The staff is so enthusiastic, welcoming, friendly and excited about this whole program.”
Elizabeth Pappalardo wanted a natural birth process for her second child without any interventions, and this time, she was up and mobile just hours after giving birth, which made her happy.
“I felt a million times better,” she said.
The second birth Helme-Smith took part in occurred Sept. 7. Jessie Young of Tinley Park gave birth to her third daughter, Noemy.
Young said the Natural Birth Center exceeded her expectations.
“Everything was really nice and clean, and the staff was friendly and helpful,” Young said. “The midwives were just fabulous. When I think about having a natural birth, this is what I envisioned.”
Young had a water birth at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital, and she was pleased with the large, soft-sided tubs the hospital offered. It gave her room to maneuver as she needed.
She was also comfortable knowing that, if she needed it, hospital services were right down the hallway from her room.
“I would recommend the Natural Birth Center for sure,” Young said.
Though the space has just officially opened, OMG already has patients lined up over the next few months, Helme-Smith said.
“We had mothers requesting a space like this for a while,” she said. “That was why we brought the idea to the hospital and started talking with them about creating a space like this.”
Though Helme-Smith said her group expected mothers would go home earlier after birth, in line with the natural experience they seek, she’s actually seen the opposite.
“Every patient has found it to be a quiet, a peaceful place where they spend quality time bonding with their newborn and establishing feedings,” she said. “They enjoy the quiet, home-like atmosphere.”