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Health Matters: Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center | 5 C hristina Varteresyan was due to give birth on September 24, so she was shocked when she went into labor on May 30 and gave birth to a little boy weighing about one and a half pounds at 23 weeks' gestation. The first- time mom was consumed with worry for her little baby, David. "It was very hard for the first month, because everything was so unstable and we didn't know the outcome," Christina says. While she recuperated, her husband, Albert, reassured her by reporting that the nurses at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) were amazing and that their son was receiving excellent care. David remained for about three months in the NICU, where he grew bigger and stronger each day. Today he is a healthy 9-pound baby who smiles and laughs and, according to Christina, looks like "an exact copy of my husband." She says she and her husband are thankful that she gave birth at Providence Saint Joseph, and they continue to text photos of David to the team of nurses who cared for him. "The nurses are amazing, each one of them," Christina says. "We are so grateful to the nurses and doctors." For most women, pregnancy and childbirth go smoothly, without complications. At Providence Saint Joseph, obstetricians, perinatologists, neonatologists, and nursing and respiratory staff are available for all deliveries—and are prepared for unexpected emergencies and high-risk pregnancies—around the clock. That's why Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center is the best and safest choice for giving birth. "Our labor-and-delivery and neonatal intensive care unit can accommodate all the needs of expectant mothers and their babies through a comprehensive Mother Baby Program," says Robert Gall, MD, a neonatologist and medical director of the NICU. "We help to ensure a successful pregnancy and delivery with a high level of expertise, care and compassion." WHAT IS A HIGH-RISK PREGNANCY? There are five types of high-risk pregnancies, explains Dr. Gall: women who (a) have a history of pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, (b) have gestational diabetes, (c) go into early labor, (d) are carrying twins or triplets or (e) are carrying a fetus with a congenital anomaly such as a heart defect. Pregnancy-induced hypertension, for instance, can compromise mother and infant, often leading to the need for a preterm delivery. "Our obstetricians and labor-and-delivery staff do a fantastic job at controlling maternal high blood pressure and prolonging the pregnancy," says Dr. Gall. Gestational diabetes can lead to premature delivery and an increased chance of respiratory distress due to underdeveloped lungs, Dr. Gall says. If you have gestational diabetes, it must be managed throughout pregnancy to ensure a healthy baby. When you undergo fetal ultrasounds during pregnancy, your doctor is checking that the fetus is developing normally. If a defect is detected, your doctor will send you to a specialist, and in some cases a baby may need surgery right after birth and require a transfer to another hospital. The Providence Saint Joseph team is fully prepared and equipped for these transfers. "Specialists and surgeons at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital work with our neonatologists to arrange for timely transfer of newborns who need surgical support services after birth," says Dr. Gall. Once stabilized, babies can return to the Providence Saint Joseph NICU. "The goal is to keep the family Safe Childbirth The Mother Baby Program at Providence Saint Joseph eases the way, in a warm and nurturing environment, for all birthing mothers. Monica Orozco Photography Dr. Robert Gall, medical director of the NICU.

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