Amanda Rostic always had a feeling her little girl wouldn’t wait until her due date to make her debut.
Throughout the pregnancy, little Helen loved to dance and kick inside Rostic’s womb.
So nearly two weeks before the big day, as the 27-year-old Rostic readied for her job as a pediatric optometric technician at Spectrum Health, she had an inkling this might be the day of her daughter’s arrival.
She made it through the workday just fine.
When she returned to her Caledonia, Michigan, home, she took a moment to ensure her preparations remained in order. She had readied the hospital bag and car seat weeks ago, but she checked them again just to be safe.
When contractions started, she kept an eye on the timing.
As the contractions grew closer together, she called her doctor and made arrangements to meet at the hospital within the hour.
Then Rostic’s labor sped up.
Within 20 minutes, her pain increased from a 3 or 4 to an 8.
She and her mother, Emma, and Rostic’s 9-year-old son, Cameron, hopped into Emma’s Toyota Camry and set off for Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.
On the drive north, somewhere along Eastern Avenue, Rostic felt the baby couldn’t wait.
They pulled the car into a parking lot of a laundromat and called 911.
In less than five minutes, Rostic felt the need to push.
Within moments came the biggest little miracle: Rostic reached down with her left hand and caught her newborn, Helen.
Neither Rostic nor her mother were wearing shoes with laces, so they used a rubber band to tie off the umbilical cord.
“Everything happened so fast,” Rostic remembered. “It was kind of like TV.”
Moments later, police and paramedics arrived in the parking lot, surprised to see Rostic had already given birth.
Helen’s dad was disappointed to have missed it, Rostic said.
Even though Helen wasn’t born in the hospital, the mother-daughter duo still had plenty of opportunity for skin-to-skin time. As paramedics evaluated Rostic and her 6-pound, 1-ounce newborn, she held her daughter close.
They were soon whisked away to Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for an initial assessment, after which they were taken to Butterworth Hospital, where they stayed for a few days.
During Rostic’s initial tour of Butterworth Hospital, the concept of “rooming in” piqued her interest.
Rooming in is an evidence-based approach that lets mom and baby remain in the same room during the hospital stay. It helps mom learn baby’s cues for hunger and it facilitates a strong bond.
It also allows mom to breastfeed on demand, said Katie McNabnay, BSN, RN, senior project specialist for Butterworth Hospital.
“It really just better prepares you for going home,” McNabnay said.
Spectrum Health has worked on rooming in for the past three years. It’s one of the steps to becoming a baby-friendly destination, a status Butterworth Hospital achieved in October 2014.
While most moms choose to room in with their baby, some moms opt to have their infant in the newborn observation area, also known as the nursery.
Moms who opt to room in have better success with breastfeeding, and it’s ultimately good for mom and the baby, McNabnay said.
“Your baby wants to be with you,” she said.
Allowing the mother and newborn to enjoy skin-to-skin time within the first hour of birth encourages bonding and breastfeeding, and it also helps keep the baby warm.
Throughout the pregnancy the baby hears and smells the same things as mom, McNabnay said, and skin-to-skin time allows the baby to orient with the outside world.
Dads can also get involved with skin-to-skin time, which promotes bonding with the new baby.
While new moms may be concerned about not getting enough sleep with their newborn in the same room, Rostic said they might discover they actually get less sleep if their child is away from them.
Given Helen’s dramatic entry into this world, she and Rostic developed a unique bond—they were inseparable from Day 1.
Rooming in helped strengthen that bond.
By having your child in the same room at the hospital, it creates a closeness that provides an added peace of mind, Rostic said. Instead of having the newborn down the hall, a mom can look over and see her little one nearby, any hour of the day.
Rostic said doctors and nurses explained they were checking on Helen each time they came into the room. As a Spectrum Health employee, she said it pleased her to see staff members working to deliver the best possible care.
From a patient’s standpoint, it helped create a positive experience, she said.
Looking back on her decision to choose skin-to-skin time and rooming in, Rostic said she would certainly recommend it to other mothers.
“It made for such a positive experience,” she said.