Care for baby, close to home

Distance from a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) facility and factors, including jobs and other children, can affect how often families may see their newborns. But having a Level III NICU at IU Health Bloomington Hospital is keeping more south central Indiana newborns closer to home and family while providing the quality care they need.

“It means that families can stay together,” said Anna Weigand, RN, BA, IBCLC. “Imagine it: you have two kids here in Bloomington, your husband is driving back and forth up state Road 37 all the time … you have to take all of this time off of work because your baby’s in Indy and you want to be there, and then you lose your job because you have to take all this time. It’s really hard on families.”

Having a Level III NICU close by can really help these parents and children as they’re counting down the days to being able to bring the baby home. “Babies who were born at 26-week gestation can stay for two to four months, or 100 days,” said Abhay Singhal, MD, MS. “That’s a lot of commuting. Here, families can visit a few times a day since they’re close.”

IU Health Bloomington Hospital functions as a Level III NICU, having earned the designation just over a year ago. One of the requirements of meeting this level of care is having neonatologists or nurse practitioners in the unit 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“In the past, pediatricians would be called in to deliver,” said Dr. Singhal. “Now we’re in-house and can provide quality care right away.”

That’s improved immediate care for all deliveries, but Level III also means the hospital can take smaller and sicker babies, including those below 34-weeks gestation and infants who need ventilators.

“Some of the 26-week babies are a pound-and-a-half, maybe close to two pounds,” said Dr. Singhal. “Very few of our newborns now are transferred to other facilities.”

“The whole idea is to keep people closer to their own communities so they can heal better,” said Weigand. “It allows parents to learn how to care for their baby, so they are better prepared for when the baby goes home.”

“With advanced Neonatology and Maternal Fetal Medicine in Bloomington, our south central Indiana families can stay close to home while still receiving world-class care. This allows obstetricians in our community to foster a holistic pregnancy and newborn experience for our highest-risk patients,” said Tashera Perry, MD.

Labor with laughing gas

A new option at IU Health Bloomington Hospital nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” is a form of pain relief generally associated with dentist appointments, but it’s becoming more popular for women who are having babies, said IU Health Bloomington Hospital Manager of Clinical Operations Anna Weigand, RN, BA, IBCLC.

The mother-to-be will utilize the gas as needed to offset pain.

Offered here:
Obstetricians brought this medically-safe option up for discussion with IU Health Bloomington Hospital because they wanted to offer their patients more options for deliveries. The hospital started offering nitrous oxide for pain management during labor in the late spring of 2017.

How it works:
Women who choose this option will be given a special breathing mask which releases a low-dose of nitrous oxide. It takes less than a minute for the gas to start working and a few minutes to leave the body.

What it does:
The nitrous oxide lessens the pain, but the low dosage means the mothers remain alert and in control. Some mothers may choose to use laughing gas to prolong the time before an epidural is needed. Others may only use the nitrous oxide for labor pain management.

Learn more:
Talk to your IU Health Southern Indiana Physicians obstetrician about including nitrous oxide in your birthing plan.

Featured IU Health Southern Indiana Physicians provider seeing patients for pregnancy-related issues:
Tashera Perry, MD