Katie Heflinger with partner Andre and baby Mack.
Alicia Clapper of Redondo Beach found her way to Providence Little Company of Mary’s maternity center through Julie Oates, a certified nurse-midwife, and she says she’s very glad she did. “During my stay, I was part of every decision made and felt respected and heard,” Clapper says. “Having Julie deliver my baby is probably the closest experience to having a mom or sister deliver your baby. The care she gave me was above and beyond, and I honestly was blown away by it.”
Providence Little Company of Mary’s maternity care stands out for its lower C-section rates and higher rates of vaginal births after cesarean (VBACs). The reason these statistics matter, explains Rená Koerner, Providence Little Company of Mary OB care coordinator, is that “with each subsequent cesarean birth, there’s additional risk for mom and baby.”
Last year, to further enhance the comfort of mothers-to-be, the hospital added midwife and doula services. A certified nurse midwife (CNM) is trained and skilled in delivering babies, while a doula focuses on the mother’s physical and emotional well-being during birth. “We are the first hospital in the South Bay to have a doula program,” says Koerner.
Savannah Madden of Downey says that the midwife and doula options also drew her to Providence Little Company of Mary. “The maternity department aligned with the vision I had for my birthing experience,” she says. “I liked the doula program and being able to have a midwife in a hospital setting. My appointments with Julie Oates felt like I was talking with a friend and just having a normal, genuine conversation. Julie made sure to answer all of my questions and also include my partner in our discussions to make him feel comfortable as well.”
Sydney Chapp of Torrance says that the doula care she received in the months before her son’s birth was very helpful. “There were a lot of things going into birth that we didn’t think of or didn’t know,” Chapp says. “Kimberly [Ryan, a Providence Little Company of Mary doula] prepped us and helped us with a birth plan, as well as exercises and routines to prepare my body and mind for labor. During the hospital stay, she was incredibly helpful in keeping me focused and making sure I was always comfortable. And so I was able to fully enjoy birth, which was something I never thought I would do!”
Chapp says that she had heard good things from a friend who’d given birth at Providence Little Company of Mary, and that contributed to her decision to schedule her delivery there. She was pleased with how the birth team worked together. “The final moments of labor when I was pushing were so special to me,” she recalls. “I felt so supported by my husband, doula, doctor and hospital staff. The doctor even had my husband, Brinson, hand me the baby directly after birth, which was such a joyous and memorable moment for us.”
Chapp also valued another kind of support she received after delivery: “The breastfeeding consultant was extremely helpful,” says Chapp. “She really went above and beyond to ensure that we were able to get a good start. If she hadn’t been there, I’m not sure we would’ve been able to stick with breastfeeding.”
Katie Heflinger of Torrance says she had a similarly positive experience with her lactation consultant. “It really helped having all of the support in the postpartum care area,” she says. “I had a wonderful breastfeeding consultant. She spent a good amount of time with me and was really eager to get me off to a great start. I needed to wear a nipple shield for the first four and a half months to achieve a latch, but we have weaned from that, and I have been exclusively breastfeeding for nine months now. I am so grateful for the entire experience.”
Koerner notes that the breastfeeding program is run by International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) and that the specially trained nurses make a point of visiting every new patient during their shifts. “Our goal is to get mothers off to a really good start,” she says.
Providence Little Company of Mary also offers a wide range of classes in person and online, including ones that cover preparation for breastfeeding basics and childbirth. A two-hour live tour of the maternity center is offered online twice a month in English and Japanese. “It’s very interactive,” says Koerner. “It goes all the way from where to park to birth certificates to discharge.”
Although this group of first-time moms fortunately didn’t require any of the additional services Providence Little Company of Mary’s maternity departments offer, it’s reassuring to know they are there. These include a 35-bed, Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The NICU is certified by the California Children’s Services (CCS) program, meaning that it is equipped to provide a full range of neonatal care services—intensive, intermediate and continuing care—for severely ill newborns and infants. Staffed around the clock by neonatologists, neonatal nurses, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, case managers and social workers, the NICU is set up to deliver high-level care for fragile newborns.
“The NICU has all individual bays,” says Koerner. “These are individual rooms with a rocking chair and a breast pump, recliner and refrigerator, so families can be with their babies in the NICU. There is a family room with a kitchen and shower facilities. We even have cameras in every room so families can view their infants online, 24/7, from their computer or cell phone.”
Also available at all times is an OB laborist, an obstetrician who can provide emergency care if needed, or cover for a patient’s primary provider until they arrive at the hospital. As a physician, the on-site laborist monitors all deliveries not attended by another physician. “They don’t have a caseload themselves,” explains Koerner. “They’re on the maternity floor 24 hours a day for when there’s an emergency like an unplanned cesarean.”
Thanks to its comprehensive, world-class maternity services, Providence Little Company of Mary is the leader in the number of deliveries performed in the South Bay.
A TOP PERFORMER IN MATERNITY CARE
Providence Little Company of Mary is the only hospital in the South Bay to be recognized by U.S. News & World Report in its 2022–23 rankings of the Best Hospitals for Maternity Care. Commended as a “High Performing” facility, Providence Little Company of Mary earned the distinction for its quality of care, including fewer complications in newborns and lower C-section rates than other hospitals. Providence Little Company of Mary Chief Executive Garry Olney says of the award, “This recognition is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our caregivers, physicians and volunteers, who bring new life to the South Bay each day.” In 2022, the hospital guided 2,600 babies into the world. Adds Olney, “We are humbled that the community trusted us to provide their families with compassionate, world-class maternity care.”
For more information on Providence Little Company of Mary hospitals, call 844-925-0942.
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