By Deanna Thompson
In October 2019, Katelyn Hutchins was a bundle of nerves as she made her way to Mission Hospital McDowell. Not only was she about to become a mother for the first time, but “I had never been admitted to the hospital or had surgery before,” said Hutchins. “So, this was my first time for everything.”
Within minutes of her arrival for a planned Cesarean section, Hutchins felt a blanket of warmth envelop her. The hospital staff not only delivered personalized care and quelled her fears, but also shared in her joy as she gave birth to a 7-pound, 14-ounce girl.
“The doctors, nurses, anesthesiologist and other staff blew me away with their love and genuine care for me and my family,” said Hutchins. “I had an amazing birthing experience thanks to Mission Hospital McDowell.”
Because her baby was breech, Hutchins was scheduled for a C-section. Initially disappointed that she wouldn’t have a traditional labor and delivery experience, Hutchins was elated to discover that the hospital offers a family-centered C-section, allowing mom and her partner to be involved as much as their circumstances will allow in the birth of their baby in the operating room (OR).
“We try to make the experience as close as possible to what patients want from a vaginal birth,” said Ellen Hearty, MD, an obstetrician at Mission Women’s Care – McDowell, who delivered Hutchins’s baby.
Hutchins’s husband, Andy, sat next to her in the operating room and held her hand as their baby was delivered. The drape protecting Hutchins’s view of the surgery was lowered, and her head was raised so she could see the baby immediately after delivery. Then, Dr. Hearty placed new daughter, Harlow, on Hutchins’s chest.
“It was immediate skin-to-skin,” said Hutchins. “It made it feel like there was no difference from what would happen after a vaginal delivery. I felt like everything was the way it was supposed to be.”
Help with a Gender Reveal
The staff offered a personal touch throughout her stay, going the extra mile to meet their patient’s needs. According to Hutchins, this included the nurses who stayed with her as an anesthesiologist administered spinal anesthesia, Dr. Hearty “explaining everything before we went in,” and the numerous nurses and doctors who visited her and their baby after the delivery.
Hutchins especially appreciated those who eagerly helped with a gender reveal immediately after Harlow’s birth. Hutchins and her husband had chosen not to know the gender in advance.
When doctors and nurses learned that a contingent of 14-15 family members was waiting expectantly outside the OR, they jumped into action, finding a neutral-color hat for Harlow, so the traditional pink headwear wouldn’t give away the surprise. “They were more excited than we were, I think, to announce what the baby was,” Hutchins said.
Caring at Every Step
“As a smaller hospital, Mission Hospital McDowell has nurtured a strong sense of community in its staff and doctors,” said Dr. Hearty. “This translates into the personalized caring for patients that Hutchins experienced.” Dr. Hearty also noted that patients have easy access, if needed, to the specialized services of a larger hospital nearby. Mission Hospital in Asheville offers the area’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a dedicated infant transport team for transfers, and support for high-risk pregnancies.
Today, the mom who was nervous about her first stay in a hospital, her first trip to surgery and her first childbirth says the experience couldn’t have been better. “The staff were amazing through the whole thing,” Hutchins said. “I felt like they actually, genuinely cared. I really trusted them to do the best for me and Harlow and my husband.”
Expecting a Baby in McDowell, Burke, Rutherford or Beyond?
Let the Mission Hospital McDowell Labor and Delivery team provide a customized delivery experience that fits the need for both mother and baby. Perks of our maternity ward include:
• Spacious, comfortable and private delivery suites with mountain views
• Access to state-of-the-art facilities and advanced technology
• Access to the region’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mission Hospital in Asheville
• Low rate of C-section procedures
• Childbirth education classes
• Celebrate with a special in-room dinner Mission Hospital McDowell offers childbirth education classes, prenatal breastfeeding classes, and labor and delivery tours.To learn more, call 828-659-5330 or visit missionhealth.org/McDowell.
Ellen Hearty, MD, is an obstetrician at Mission Women’s Care – McDowell.