Kathy Marafino, RN
Interview by Nancy Steiner
When it comes to maternity care, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance believes in an individualized approach. Kathy Marafino, RN, manager of labor and delivery and the mother-baby unit, answers questions about what to expect when delivering at the hospital.
What should parents consider when deciding where to have their baby?
Along with being in a place that your physician is connected with, you want to deliver in a hospital that provides personalized, compassionate care and supports your birth preferences or birth plan.
What might some of those preferences be?
Would you prefer to be mobile during the labor process? What are your preferences for pain management? Do you prefer a physiologic (no interventions) birth or to have a walking epidural? Who do you want in the room supporting you throughout? We work collaboratively to help fulfill these preferences.
We also have the unique feature of an OB care coordinator. Rená Koerner, who has 20 years’ experience as a doula, connects with our families during their pregnancy to answer questions and offer guidance throughout. She will facilitate individual support. She helps parents articulate their birth preferences, communicates their desires to the staff and provides resources from our hospital to the community.
What’s the environment like where moms labor, deliver and receive postpartum care?
While we have all of the emergency equipment available, our rooms look more like bedrooms than hospital rooms. All of our rooms are private. Birthing balls and other aids are available to help Mom be in a comfortable position. We have showers in the labor rooms and encourage moms to use the warm water as a comfort measure. We also have a private tub room available, which is very relaxing. We practice rooming-in, where babies stay with their parents to promote bonding. There’s a couch that pulls out into a bed for the mom’s support partner.
What if a mom requires a C-section?
We offer “gentle” C-sections. That means a support person can go into the operating room with Mom if she wants. We use a sterile drape with a window that Mom can look through to see the baby being born. Baby is placed skin-to-skin on Mom in the operating room, and we encourage Mom’s partner to also do skin-to-skin with the baby.
Laborists (hospital-based obstetricians) are here 24/7 to assist private physicians if needed or to perform the delivery if Mom’s doctor is delayed. Our anesthesiologists are in-house 24/7, enabling us to do TOLACs (trial of labor after cesarean), also called VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Expert neonatologists are also in the hospital 24/7 to provide specialized care to your newborn, if needed.
What is fetal diagnostic testing, and why is that important?
Fetal diagnostic testing provides information about the baby’s health and helps us to plan for any special treatments the baby might need at, or after, birth. Most fetal diagnostic testing is non-invasive and done in our unit. A fetal monitor tracks the baby’s heart rate and Mom’s contractions. Ultrasounds check for a variety of conditions, ranging from amniotic fluid level to the baby’s muscle tone and growth patterns.
What if the need arises for more extensive care?
Our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) provides Level 3 care and is also certified by California Children’s Services (CCS). CCS certification is a rigorous program that ensures a high level of services for our babies. We have access to a full range of subspecialists who help premature or critically ill newborns. We were the first hospital in the Los Angeles area to offer private, single-family NICU rooms. Our private rooms feature comfortable chairs so family members can sit and hold baby skin-to-skin (kangaroo care), which promotes healing and family bonding and enables parents to get to know their babies.
What about breastfeeding?
We spend a lot of time helping families learn to feed and care for their babies. All of our nurses have extensive training in breastfeeding support. They work one-on-one with families in the mother-baby unit and NICU. Certified lactation consultants lead our breastfeeding support group, which is free to our families who have delivered here up until the baby is six weeks old. Providence Little Company of Mary is very supportive of breastfeeding, and more than 80% of our moms exclusively breastfeed.
For more information and to arrange a complimentary tour of our maternity unit and/or to enroll in our childbirth classes, call 888-HEALING (888-432-5464) or visit ProvidenceClasses.org.
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