For high-risk moms-to-be
It’s a fact. More women are waiting until they enter their 30s and 40s to start a family—or add to it.
This puts them and their babies at higher risk for complications and premature delivery. For this reason, it’s important for women in the 35-plus age range to evaluate their risks and make sure their designated hospital is equipped to handle any emergency that could affect their pregnancy or baby.
A Safe Choice
For 44-year-old Cynthia Corella, the choice was clear: “I asked a friend, who happens to be a physician, to recommend the absolute best hospital in the area to have a baby. She said, ‘Without a doubt, it’s the MemorialCare Center for Women at Miller Children’s,’” Cynthia recalls. Fully equipped to care for a mother and her newborn under one roof, from the earliest stages of pregnancy, to delivery and beyond, Miller Children’s has been recognized by the state of California and Fit Pregnancy magazine as one of the safest places to have a baby. It’s also one of only 22 hospitals in the state with a level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)—the highest designation available. “A level lll NICU designation means that we have the ability to treat newborns who need extremely specialized care,” says Arthur Strauss, M.D., medical director of the NICU. “That includes babies who weigh less than 2 pounds, those with birth defects and breathing difficulties.”
The NICU at Miller Children’s is among the largest and most advanced in the area, caring for more than 1,000 critically ill or premature babies every year. The NICU team is composed of doctors known as neonatologists (doctors who specialize in the treatment of critically ill newborns), neurologists, specially trained nurses, respiratory therapists, lactation consultants and many others. Together, they use state-of-the-art technology to treat their tiny patients, resulting in one of the highest risk-adjusted survival rates in the nation.
That kind of experience and expertise is important for babies who may need special care, and their mothers—particularly those over 35. “This is the premiere place to be for a high-risk pregnancy,” says Michael Nageotte, M.D., medical director of the MemorialCare Center for Women. “But even with pregnancies considered low risk, premature labor can occur. In fact, one out of every six babies born at the hospital last year was admitted to the NICU.”
Aside from the mother’s age, other factors can increase risk during pregnancy, including past miscarriages, premature deliveries or a history of twins, triplets or more. “Chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart problems can also result in a high-risk pregnancy,” notes Dr. Nageotte. “Women with these risk factors should consult a perinatologist (high-risk pregnancy doctor) before becoming pregnant so medications, treatments and strategies can be adjusted.” At the MemorialCare Center for Women, careful monitoring before conception and throughout pregnancy can reduce the risks associated with these conditions.
A Tiny Miracle
Having experienced a difficult delivery with her first pregnancy, Cynthia was taking no chances with this one. “It was very important to me that this high level of care was right there at the hospital where I was going to deliver,” she explains. “I wanted to be sure I had my bases covered in case something went wrong.” That careful planning paid off when baby Viviana arrived three months early. Cynthia recalls that emotional time: “When I saw her, I just cried—she was so tiny, I didn’t think she was going to make it,” she says. “But the staff was absolutely phenomenal. They knew exactly what to do, and everything my baby needed to survive was right there.” Viviana was in the NICU for 74 days, Cynthia by her side nearly every minute. “It meant so much to me that, even while I was in the hospital recovering, she was right there, close by,” Cynthia says. The MemorialCare Center for Women and Miller Children’s NICU are just a hallway apart—footsteps away from each other.
Today, Viviana is home and “doing great,” Cynthia says. She remains grateful to the doctors, nurses and other caregivers at Miller Children’s Hospital for making this possible. “I just can’t say enough good things about the care we received, from beginning to end. It just doesn’t get better than this.” For more information visit MemorialCare Center for Women.