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There are many layers of consideration for an expecting mom leading up to the birth of her child.

Shanda thought she had everything well in hand with a scheduled C-section for the arrival of her second child, but there ended up being an unexpected “turn” of events that led to a series of first-time healthcare situations for Shanda and baby. Memorial Medical Center (MMC) was ready and well-equipped to help with all of the variances during her labor and birth experience. Shanda, a receptionist in the Imaging department at MMC, was born and raised in Ashland. Her parents own a well-known local restaurant, Hugo’s Pizza. She and her partner Mike and 3-year old daughter, Sophie (and now newest baby James) are happy to back in the area close to family after recently living in Duluth. Shanda began her career at MMC in March of 2020. She worked for a week or so and then was furloughed due to postponements of services during the pandemic. “I came back to work pregnant after being at home for 6 weeks,” she laughs. “A really good thing did come out of the COVID-19 hardship times for my family!” Shanda worked full-time during the remainder of her pregnancy and started planning for baby’s arrival.

Planning for a baby felt a bit different during the pandemic.

There was some apprehension involved about going out into the community, even for groceries. “It felt risky to be out in public, like I could potentially expose myself and baby to COVID-19, even though we were always very careful,” Shanda said. The COVID-19 vaccine did become available to her while she was pregnant, but she was hesitant and chose to wait to get vaccinated until after her baby was born. “I do regret waiting to get the vaccine,” Shanda admits. “Now research shows that if a pregnant mom gets the vaccine, it could also benefit the baby by giving them antibodies that can increase their immunity to COVID-19. I wish I would have known that five months ago. I would have definitely gotten vaccinated and that would have relieved some of my anxiety.”

Shanda will always be grateful for her MMC family, especially during her pregnancy. Since she could not have a big baby shower with lots of friends and family from out of town, her co-workers in the Radiology department surprised her with a small baby shower. “After baby James was born, they dropped off gifts, clothes, and food. They made me feel so special,” she said. “By the time we got to go home, we had everything we needed, thanks in part to my co-workers. They are so thoughtful.” Because baby James was breech, Shanda’s provider, Dr. Katelyn Mohrbacher advised the scheduled C-section for mom and baby, which Shanda said was just fine. She was confident everything would be taken care of and go smoothly at MMC, and she trusted her doctor to listen to her and respect her wishes. About a week before the scheduled birth, baby James flipped into a normal birthing position, and Shanda and her doctor decided to have the baby naturally. The C-section was cancelled and everyone waited for the labor to begin. After a lot of waiting, Shanda asked to schedule a medically-induced labor at 40 weeks of pregnancy. When she went into the Family Birthplace of MMC to be induced on April 1, she started contractions on her own and no induction was necessary. C-section… no C-section. Induction… no induction.

Baby James just couldn’t quite make up his mind yet.

Shanda and Baby James

Shanda was in labor for about 12 hours, and then–time to push. But baby James had turned his body yet again and his head was not in the right position. After an hour or more of pushing, it was determined that she would have a C-section after all. “That was such an experience,” said Shanda. “I didn’t even really know what was going on because I was so exhausted, but I never thought once that I might have to be transferred to another hospital or be sent up to Duluth. I was confident that everything would happen on site at MMC. I knew they could take care of me, and that gave me peace of mind during a stressful time.” About 15 minutes after her care team called the emergency C-section, Shanda was wheeled across the hall and into the operating room.

Shanda was one of the first patients to have a C-section in the new Surgical Services addition at MMC.

“There was a big team of doctors and nurses in the operating room,” Shanda remembers. “Dr. Africano came in to assist. I didn’t actually see him, but I was told he was coming and that made me feel relieved, knowing there was a specialized OB/GYN there.” While it was a longer C-section, MMC had every confidence in the situation. Her procedure took three hours whereas a typical C-section takes about 30 minutes. Baby James Michael Timothy Rea was born perfectly fine weighing exactly eight pounds and measuring almost 20 inches long. Mom and baby were able to return to their comfortable suite in the Family Birthplace almost immediately for a three-day recovery before going home. Visitor restrictions allowed for her support person to be with her during that recovery time, along with one visitor each day.

“Despite the hard labor and complex birth, my experience at MMC was spectacular,” Shanda says, grateful for the expert care. “I knew from the moment I walked in as an OB patient that I would be well taken care of. Everyone was very knowledgeable and gave me healthy insightful suggestions during the labor, surgery, and postpartum. Thanks to the expert and helpful guidance from the lactation consultant, we are successfully breastfeeding and I am getting ready to go back to work since my maternity leave is ending soon.”

“My partner and I are all vaccinated now, and I’m fully healed from the C-section procedure. I feel safe, and I am so relieved that everything turned out so well for James and me. Thank you to MMC for giving me peace of mind by providing the comprehensive OB care Baby James and I needed.”

Watch Shanda and Baby James' testimonial video - click the laptop to watch.

The day you give birth is one of the most important of your life. Creating a birth plan ahead of time helps you make decisions about how you want your labor and delivery to be, and lets others know your wishes. So when the big day arrives, you can focus on what’s most important — bringing your new baby into the world.

A birth plan serves as a road map to follow during your labor and delivery. This can include everything from who you want in the room with you to pain management. Thinking through these things can calm your fears, help you make better decisions in the moment, and be as prepared as possible for what’s coming.

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