“My experience there was amazing,” said Elizabeth Schwartz of Brentwood, who gave birth to her son Ryder at the center. “It was very Zen-like and serene. The staff was so sensitive and professional. We loved it.”
April marked the one-year anniversary of the family birth center, a state-of-the-art facility that combines cutting-edge medical care and technology with the welcoming, calming and cozy comforts of home.
Located at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek, the birthing center accommodates residents throughout Contra Costa County and offers families the luxury of laboring and delivering in the same room. All the accompanying services are located on the same floor. The result, officials hope, is a more complete and satisfying experience.
“We understand that every birth experience is unique, so we work very hard to meet the needs of each family and focus on the family-centered care,” said Pavna Sloan, nurse manager for the family birth center. “We support the dads and significant others and get them as involved as we can. We tell them that mom has been carrying baby for nine months and now it’s their turn. We show them how to hold, wrap and change the baby.”
Each patient at the center receives a private room complete with a flat-screen TV, audio system and hide-a-bed couch for family members staying the night. Rooms also boast spacious balconies, natural lighting and beautiful wooden basinets for when baby arrives.
“People often ask if they can buy the bassinets to take home with them,” laughed Sloan. “They aren’t for sale. But mostly what I hear from people is what a wonderful experience they had and how amazing the nurses were.”
And for East County residents such as Schwartz, the John Muir Medical Center offices in Brentwood offer all the pre-natal, post-partum, pediatric and follow-up services necessary for families, making the Walnut Creek hospital necessary only for the delivery.
But the connection isn’t lost once the baby is delivered. A free ongoing support group called Muir Mommies offers weekly discussion meetings on a variety of topics important to moms and their babies.
“I really love this group,” said Schwartz, who has attended since her son was born. “Every week there’s a new topic, and it’s been a major support for me. The moms I started out with have become really close friends and now we not only see each other at the meetings but we get together for girls nights and things, too. It’s been wonderful.”
And that, agrees Sloan, is what makes the Muir programs so effective. “We really support the whole family, and it doesn’t end after they’re discharged,” she said. “We hopefully create connections that last a lifetime.”
For more information on the Family Birthing Center or to make an appointment to tour the facility, visit www.johnmuirhealth.com or call 925-941-7900.