Niagara Health Women’s and Babies’ team delivers top results

Kandace Parks at home with her daughter Emma. Photo by Anna Cobian, Niagara Health.

Story by Kim Jackson, Niagara Health – Kandace Parks knew she wanted to give birth naturally and did not want a cesarean section. Her yet-to-be-born baby wasn’t necessarily co-operating.

Kandace’s water broke at home the morning of June 24, two weeks before her due date, but she wasn’t having contractions and wasn’t in active labour. When the Fonthill woman arrived at the Women’s and Babies’ Unit at Niagara Health’s St. Catharines Site, she was given the option to stay and walk around until her labour progressed, or to return home. She opted to go home, but she returned 12 hours later when labour didn’t start on its own.

While she didn’t have a formal birth plan, she did know she wanted an epidural and didn’t want a c-section. But she knew there could be complications in her case so she put her faith in her physicians to inform her of the options to ensure both her safety and the safety of her baby.

To reduce the risk she’d need a c-section, she said her care team supported her through the early stages of labour before giving her an epidural.

News that Niagara Health is rated as a top-performing hospital for conducting fewer low-risk cesarean sections compared with the national average is no surprise to Kandace.

For the third consecutive year, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) recently rated Niagara Health in the top 10 per cent of large community hospitals nationwide for performing fewer low-risk c-sections. Niagara Health has achieved this rating since centralizing maternal services at the St. Catharines hospital when it opened in 2013.

Kandace described her experience as supportive, relaxed and an environment where she felt in control of her labour and delivery from the moment she walked through the doors.

“It’s that approach that made our experience what it was,” she said as she cradled her two-week-old daughter, Emma. “I can’t say enough about the nurses, the doctors, everyone we saw. The care we had was amazing from start to finish.”

Dr. Johan Viljoen, Niagara Health Deputy Chief of Staff, Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the physician who delivered baby Emma, said that while c-sections became more commonplace over the last decade, there has been a greater emphasis among healthcare providers everywhere to reduce the procedure unless clinically essential.

“At Niagara Health, we allow for natural labour whenever possible. Less intervention leads to better outcomes for mom and baby,” he explained. “This significant shift has occurred since we created one specialized unit because it allowed us to standardize our practices and enhance the team approach to patient care.”

CIHI also rated Niagara Health as a top performer for having fewer injuries related to the use of forceps or vacuums during delivery.



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