As Tara Gilroy found out, St. Joe’s is there for the expecting and unexpected.
Roncesvalles Village resident Tara Gilroy wanted to have a midwife so she could labour at home for as long as possible, but her husband William wanted a hospital birth in case complications arose. They found the best of both worlds at our Family Birthing Centre (FBC) where midwives work alongside hospital staff and physicians to give moms access to a variety of birthing options.
After 12 hours of labour at home, Tara’s midwife Caroline visited for the second time and discovered a complication. “My water broke, but it didn’t happen like it typically does in the movies where you have a big scene. The baby was acting like a plug, so only a little of the amniotic fluid released,” says Tara. Caroline checked the fluid and noted the presence of meconium, the baby’s first stool, which can cause respiratory problems during delivery, so she advised Tara and William to go to St. Joe’s so the baby could be monitored for any signs of distress.
At St. Joe’s, Caroline prepared one of the specially designed labour rooms and connected Tara to a fetal monitor. Since the Family Birthing Centre opened in 2012, thousands of birthing mothers have benefitted from the thoughtful features like in-room showers to help ease pain and relax muscles during labour. Tara was thrilled to take advantage of her shower for two hours.
“There was enough space for me to sit comfortably while William kept the water flowing over me. They even had a stability ball I could use to sit on and find different positions to work through my labour,” said Tara. At one point, William was even able to take a nap on the futon in Tara’s room.
As the hours ticked by, Tara continued to labour under Caroline’s care. By 18 hours, Tara felt like her labour was coming to an end because the contractions were intense and frequent, with few breaks. But when Caroline checked, Tara was still only 4 cm dilated, and worse, the baby was not positioned low enough. Tara was tired since she had already been laboring for a long time and had not slept.
Caroline recommended an epidural and at that point, care was transferred to the hospital team.
“As soon as the decision was made, the hospital staff were amazing. The nurse was right there and I didn’t have to wait long for the epidural,” says Tara.
A whole-team effort helped Tara deliver her baby. Obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Priya Sharma, a resident, FBC nurses and Caroline were with her every step of the way to empower her to work with her body to the finish line. “The encouraging, positive language as I was pushing was great. It wasn’t cheerleading, it was just positive, telling me what to do and helping me understand how far I’d come, letting me take breaks when I needed and working with the contractions,” says Tara.
After 26 hours of collaborative care and labour coaching, Tucker Thomas Gerald Gilroy was born on November 24, 2015, weighing 9 lbs. 9 oz. “So many care providers were in the room. The respiratory therapist and pediatrician checked him carefully. He came out screaming and everyone was pretty convinced his lungs were fine.” The new family returned home about 24 hours later.
St. Joe’s was the first hospital in Ontario to grant in-hospital delivery services to midwives. It’s part of how we embrace different approaches to care.
“There are a lot of people that look to other hospitals for care and I can’t understand why based on the immediacy, kindness and professionalism of care we had at St. Joe’s and how in-tune they are with different approaches to birthing,” says Tara. If they decide to have another child, Tara says she and William will go back to their midwife and St. Joe’s, grateful that their local community hospital has all they need.