Elizabeth C O’Donnell, MD

August 7th, 2016

One of the most exciting family events is the birth of a newborn. A lot of preparation takes place in the months leading up to the big day. In the vast majority of cases, mothers deliver at term and mom and baby are home in one to three days. However, despite meticulous planning, unexpected issues may surface. Even in the healthiest of pregnancies, emergencies arise.

An expectant mother may have factors that would categorize her as a high risk pregnancy – a family history that passes on an inheritable trait or disorder, an existing medical condition, a lifestyle habit (alcohol use, smoking, substance abuse/misuse), age over 35, multiple births, pregnancy–induced hypertension, gestational diabetes mellitus, obesity.

The CDC reports that in the United States 8% of infants are born with low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds), and 9.6% are delivered prematurely (before 37 weeks gestation). Premature birth is a leading cause of long-term neurologic disabilities in children.

Choosing where to celebrate a child’s birth is one of the most important decisions expectant parents make. A couple should consider a facility that is well staffed by experienced professionals who are ready to respond to different birth scenarios, most especially the unexpected.

Portneuf Medical Center celebrates the birth of approximately 1,500 babies each year. Our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is staffed by board-certified neonatologists, who are pediatricians who have gone through additional years of training. Theses subspecialists are able to care for both well and very critically ill newborns. These physicians are available 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. The Portneuf NICU is also staffed by neonatal nurses, respiratory therapists, dieticians, speech, occupational and physical therapists, pharmacists, social workers and case managers.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Portneuf Medical Center is a modern state of the art facility. Our staff is committed to a family-centered care approach to nurturing and healing. Parents are encouraged to be part of the interdisciplinary care team.

Our neonatal team’s outreach activities help referring healthcare providers and institutions throughout Southeast Idaho; and our neonatal transport team is available to transfer babies into our unit who require a higher level of care. Additionally, our facility provides a learning environment for medical residents and students, as well as other healthcare disciplines. A commitment to sharing knowledge with upcoming professionals is an integral part of Portneuf NICU’s mission.

If a mother has a high risk pregnancy, it may be reasonable for her to have a conversation with her obstetrician or delivery provider about visiting the NICU. At which time, she can have a conversation with a neonatologist to discuss her concerns and/or expectations.

Planning ahead can make the birth experience a truly special occasion.

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