Kate Karas was excited that she was pregnant with her second child. But after her first baby came early at 34 weeks, she was considered a high-risk pregnancy. Her daughter Elliana's first days were spent in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and doctors anticipated her second child would follow that same pattern.
To prepare, Kate spent time visiting area hospitals near her Arlington Heights home where she’d recently moved. At each hospital, she looked specifically at the NICU where she imagined her second baby would get his start. When she toured Northwest Community Hospital (NCH), the search for the perfect hospital was over.
"We liked the labor and delivery area and the NICU was a big determining factor," Kate says.
Kate learned she'd have her own private room, which was not the case with her first delivery. She also learned that NCH has world-class physicians who work in tandem with neonatologists from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago to care for the babies in the NICU.
Kate received comprehensive prenatal care from WomanCare, P.C., which is affiliated with NCH. One of her favorite obstetricians there is Rebecca Keith, M.D., who delivered her baby.
"Knowing Kate's history, we had an advantage," Dr. Keith explains. "We had extra surveillance on her and took extra precautions, and we did things to catch it early to prevent the preterm labor from happening again."
Kate delivered a full-term, healthy baby boy named Georgie on March 3, 2017. Georgie did not have to spend any time in the NICU.
"It could not have been more textbook," Kate says. "I got there, they called Dr. Keith and it was easy. I felt contractions, but nothing really intense."
Support and care
Kate loved the personalized birthing experience with a private labor and delivery room, and when she was taken to the Mother/Baby Unit after giving birth, she was most impressed by the calm and soothing environment and the fact that the nurses are great advocates for the moms. She loved the quiet hours and family-friendly environment. The nurses knew just what she needed, even before she did.
"I remember the first night when one of the nurses came and asked if I wanted her to take Georgie so I could get some sleep," Kate says. "It made a huge difference for me to sleep for three hours."
A mom's recovery is very important because babies can sense stress.
"Rest makes for a much happier mom and a much better bond," Dr. Keith says.
When NCH Staff Pediatrician Stephanie Baker, M.D. came onto the unit to examine Georgie, Kate liked her so much she decided to continue to bring Georgie to her for well-child visits. Georgie, now 14 months old, is healthy and joyful.
"This kid just never stops smiling," Kate says. "He's a really happy, easy-going baby."
Dr. Keith was thrilled to see how the progesterone shots Kate was given through her pregnancy worked to help her carry Georgie to full term. A mother of two, Dr. Keith experienced preterm labor herself, so she was able to relate personally to Kate.
"I think having these experiences has definitely enhanced my ability to be a more empathetic physician with my patients and to be able to connect with them in a lot of ways," Dr. Keith says.
There are many factors that can help with a healthy delivery. In addition to having a positive attitude like Kate, Dr. Keith says expectant moms should:
- Know what's going on with their bodies
- Know what's going on with their baby's development
- Ask questions at their OB-GYN visits
- Communicate well with nurses once they arrive at the hospital
"The nurses are absolutely key to a good delivery," Dr. Keith says. "Fortunately, we have fantastic nurses who communicate well with the physicians and patients. Having that makes for a safe, pleasant, memory-producing delivery."
If you do need the NICU
Dr. Keith, who has been to several area hospitals' NICUs says, "NCH is the best that I've ever worked with, as far as how it's set up. You walk in and it's very quiet and peaceful." The NCH NICU provides private rooms and even has a door in between the rooms for twins so that moms don't have to walk out into the hallway to nurse their other child.
"They really thought long and hard about the design and made it as good of an experience as possible for a difficult situation," Dr. Keith says. "That's what a lot of my patients have said."
We're in the business of happy 'birth' days
From great comfort to expert care, NCH has everything you need for a happy 'birth' day. To learn more about NCH's Women's Center or to find an OB-GYN visit nch.org/birthday.
Follow us on Facebook and Instagram at #NCHbirthday as we celebrate NCH 'birth' days in the coming months.
- Stephanie Baker
- Rebecca Keith