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Published on August 10, 2018

Pregnancy Week: Breastfeeding, Waterbirth and Update on Future Women’s Facility

Pregnancy Week: Breastfeeding, Waterbirths, Womens Facility Update

In this Fox 8 House Call series, Cone Health experts explore childbirth and women's services topics, including:

Breastfeeding Basics

Breast milk is the ideal source of nutrition for babies. Breastfeeding is important, as it significantly boosts a baby’s immune system and helps protects them from various illnesses. Babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of developing certain health conditions, such as type 1 & 2 diabetes, obesity and asthma. It also offers a quiet relaxed time for mother and baby to bond. Breastfeeding can be good for the mother’s health, too – it’s linked to a lower risk of both breast and ovarian cancer in women.

As a hospital that is designated Baby Friendly, Cone Health Women’s Hospital promotes both skin-to-skin and rooming-in for new parents. Skin-to-skin is a model of care in which babies are placed on the mother’s bare chest immediately after delivery, and examined and stabilized while being held by the mother. ‘Babies room-in’ is another care model in which the newborn stays in the same room as the mother throughout the entire duration of their stay at the hospital. Studies have shown that these practices facilitate breastfeeding, showing improved rates of babies taking the breast and successful nursing. When babies room-in, parents can learn feeding cues and feed as frequently as needed by watching their baby, not the clock.

Breastfeeding can be a challenge for moms and babies, as it is new to both of them. Cone Health Women’s Hospital and Alamance Regional Medical Center have established several classes and support groups to give expectant mothers tips and tools on how to get breastfeeding off to a great start and continue the process successfully. Breastfeeding classes in Greensboro and Burlington are taught by certified lactation consultants that are also available for private consultations.

Kelly Black, RN, is a registered nurse and lactation consultant at Cone Health Women’s Hospital.

The Basics of Waterbirth

While getting an epidural is still a common option for pain management in childbirth, waterbirth is an alternative birthing option that has been growing throughout the community. Women’s Hospital is proud to be the first hospital in NC to offer credentialing for water immersion in labor and waterbirth as part of our certified nurse midwife and physician privileges. This sounds complex, but what it simply means is that Women’s Hospital is committed to keeping waterbirth safe and to keeping it as an option for families in our community. Not all obstetrical practices offer waterbirth, so make sure you check with your health care provider.

Laboring in the water has benefits for moms, babies and partners. The water can help to decrease a mother’s perception of the pain associated with childbirth. The water helps facilitate this by:

  • Comfort and mobility of the mother.
  • Increased ability to be upright.
  • Facilitated rotation and descent.
  • Reduced pressure on the abdomen.
  • Energy conservation.
  • Deeper relaxation.

For babies, waterbirth is a gentler process, as they move from one water environment to another. If mom and baby are both doing well, then skin-to-skin is encouraged between mom and baby immediately after delivery. (Skin-to-skin is encouraged regardless of mode of delivery at Women’s Hospital, if mom and baby are doing well. Partners and other support people can also do skin-to-skin.)

Waterbirth is a safe option for low-risk pregnancies. It is important for a woman interested in waterbirth to have a conversation with her credentialed provider to determine if she is a good candidate for a waterbirth. Then, all expectant parents need to approach birth with a flexible attitude. There can be situations that occur as a woman’s labor unfolds that may prevent her from being able to use the pool, like going into preterm labor. Other situations may require that a mom get out of the pool to ensure the safety of her and baby, such as the need for continuous monitoring or a mother’s desire for an epidural. Remaining flexible and keeping open lines of communication with your nursing staff and care provider are crucial in all births.

The waterbirth program at Women’s Hospital does require women to bring their own pool and accessories to the hospital. This is why it is important for women to begin thinking about birthing options early in their pregnancy, as women will need to become educated, prepare and obtain their supplies. To assist in this process, a free class on waterbirth at Women’s Hospital is offered every month. Expectant parents can register for this class at

Only a few practices are currently certified to provide waterbirths as a delivery option, so look for a practice with midwives that can help you plan for a waterbirth.

Kristin Kerbo, RN, is a registered nurse and childbirth educator at Cone Health Women’s Hospital.

New Women's Hospital Update

The Cone Health Women’s Hospital has been a special place for women and babies since the first baby was born there in 1990. As trends in childbirth have changed, Cone Health has been dedicated to meet the changing needs of the moms and families in our community. As we researched what it would take to expand and upgrade our current home to incorporate the advanced care we want for our neonatal intensive care unit and other areas, we realized that constructing something new would be the best choice. So we decided to start from scratch with a new building, connected to The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital and the exceptional teams available there.

Not only are we expanding some of the existing services at Women’s Hospital, but we’re also moving closer to Moses Cone Hospital to connect families to our pediatric and emergency services so they can get all the care they need in one place. This way, no matter what our moms’ individual needs are, they will be steps away from emergency care specialists.

The new hospital will also have an expanded NICU composed of single rooms with individual bathrooms to keep babies and their families together and comfortable. Single rooms allow our staff to focus on couplet care, where both the mom and baby are cared for in the same room.

The safety of our patients is our top priority. Across Cone Health at Women’s Hospital and Alamance Regional Medical Center, our priority is providing safe, high-quality patient care. We follow national protocols for managing pregnancy and childbirth complications.

We value the relationships we build with each family that chooses Women’s Hospital or Alamance Regional Medical Center for maternity care, and we want them to feel comfortable and safe before, during and after their hospital stay. This new facility will help our teams continue to provide the best care for our patients. Our labor and delivery teams take special steps to ensure we’re providing the highest quality, safest care possible for our new moms and families.

Kelly Leggett, MD, specializes in obstetrics and gynecology at the Center for Women's Healthcare and is the clinical transformation officer for Cone Health.

2 Your Well-Being

Cone Health and WFMY News 2 are excited to partner together to provide health and wellness information for you and your family. Watch Cone Health experts on television and online.

Tune in to WFMY News 2 every Monday to watch health segments on a variety of wellness topics.

Ask providers your questions during our live web chats on the third Wednesday of each month at 4 p.m. on the WFMY Facebook page.