Giving Birth in the Grand Valley

Whether you’re currently expecting a baby or thinking about having a child, the Grand Valley is a wonderful place to start a family. Here you’ll find caring, dedicated health professionals, top-notch facilities for labor and delivery, and a birthing community committed to prenatal education and support for all expectant mothers.

 Photos by Cat Mayer

Photos by Cat Mayer

The Importance of Prenatal Care

Prenatal care is important to a healthy pregnancy, a healthy birth, and a healthy child. It involves monitoring maternal and child health, and screening for irregularities so that they can be addressed early. This helps all pregnancies proceed as smoothly and normally as possible.

In most instances, women begin prenatal care after becoming pregnant, often around 8-12 weeks. Ideally, however, women should start a prenatal vitamin or increase their intake of folic acid through food sources prior to conception.

Dr. Mike White, an obstetric hospitalist and head of St. Mary’s OB/GYN clinic, recommends planning ahead and taking steps to “tune up” your body before pregnancy. This includes healthy eating, regular exercise, and having a physical examination to identify any underlying issues.

Tiffini Young, a certified nurse midwife (CNM) with Grand Valley Midwives at Community Hospital, puts it this way, “This is a time in your life when you want to be as healthy as possible. Getting healthy before you conceive sets the pregnancy up to succeed.”

Given that the majority of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned, no mom should feel bad if she didn’t plan ahead, start taking vitamins early, or get in optimal shape before conceiving. Pregnancy is a normal part of life, and women’s bodies know how to create healthy children. So, no matter where you are in your pregnancy, following these expert tips will help you and your baby have the best possible outcome.

Prenatal Care Tips

  • Go to all prenatal appointments. Attend monthly prenatal checkups until 28 weeks. From 28-36 weeks, have a prenatal checkup every two weeks. Weekly appointments begin at 36 weeks through delivery.

  • Adopt healthy habits. If you smoke, drink, or use marijuana or other drugs, stop. Take vitamins as directed by your healthcare professional. Eat healthy food, but don’t overeat. Cut back on soda and sugary drinks. Exercise regularly.

  • Seek help for nausea. Morning sickness can be debilitating, but according to Holly Carpenter, a CNM at St. Mary’s, it can be treated. Don’t suffer. Ask for help.

  • Be kind to yourself. Take care of your mental health. Focus on what you’re doing right for your baby, yourself, and your family. If you feel depressed or persistently anxious and melancholy, seek help.

  • Build a support system. Create a network of women who have given birth, cared for newborns, and can help you plan the pregnancy and birth that is best for you.

  • Take a childbirth education class. As Patty Kandiko, a CNM and owner of Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center, puts it, “You can’t wake up one morning and run a marathon. Neither should you wake up one day and give birth. We want moms to be prepared, and childbirth education is part of this.”

  • Understand your options. Charlotte Balerio, St. Mary’s childbirth coordinator, stresses the importance of learning about labor and delivery in advance, including the risks and benefits of medication and interventions. “I want moms to have all of that information, so that when they come in they can make good choices,” Balerio explains.

Who Will Deliver YOUR Baby?

Part of educating yourself about pregnancy and childbirth involves choosing who will help you deliver your baby.

When it comes to medical professionals, mothers have a choice between physicians (usually obstetricians or primary care providers) and CNMs, who work closely with physicians and refer patients needing additional care.

For healthy women anticipating a normal pregnancy, midwives are an increasingly popular option — especially for women seeking a personalized approach to labor and delivery. Registered or direct-entry midwives, who are licensed in the state of Colorado, are an option for those desiring a home birth.

For women with underlying health concerns, an obstetrician may be a more appropriate choice. A family doctor, who will care for mother and child going into the future, is an option for all families. The primary care team at MarillacHealth, led by Dr. Erica Lovett, offers prenatal care, labor and delivery, and postpartum care for all, including those with or without health insurance.

Labor and delivery nurses play an integral role as well. Labor and delivery nurses are at the mom’s bedside, assessing progress, monitoring the health of the baby, offering support and suggestions to laboring mothers, administering medications, and documenting everything that happens during labor.

Doulas, while not medically trained, are an option for prenatal education, labor support, and postpartum assistance, explains Miranda Richardson of Ten Moons Birth. Doulas do not take the place of the father or birth partner. Instead, they encourage and support the mother and birth partner—reminding them, for example, of pain-relieving techniques and comfort measures.

New mother with newborn in Grand Junction.jpeg

Resources for Expectant Parents

B4 Babies & Beyond, Hilltop Community Resources

This program helps eligible families access quality healthcare coverage through Medicaid and CHP+ to ensure that pregnant women and children get the care they need. B4 Babies staff arranges doctor appointments and transportation and provides information on nutrition, growth and development, and healthy living. Translation services are available. 970.255.8687

BirthSmart

BirthSmart sponsors an annual Birth and Baby Expo, maintains a listing of breastfeeding support groups, and helps low-income women access reduced-fee doula services through Mama Matters. birthsmart.org

Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center

An option for women with normal, low-risk pregnancies, Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center treads the middle ground between a medical facility and a home birth. Staffed by certified nurse midwives, Bloomin’ Babies provides prenatal, postnatal, and annual care. Women labor in home-like rooms and can be discharged with their babies as soon as four hours after giving birth. bloominbabiesbirthcenter.com, 970.549.1711

Colorado Midwives Association (CMA)

An organization of registered midwives (sometimes called direct-entry midwives), CMA provides information on home births and maintains a listing of state-licensed registered midwives. coloradomidwives.org

Community Hospital

Community Hospital features the LDRP model of care, in which moms labor, deliver, recover, and receive postpartum care in the same room, often attended by the same nurse. Community Hospital offers childbirth education and lactation assistance to new moms. Providers employed by Community Hospital include Grand Valley Midwives and Colorado West WomanCare. 970.242.0920 (Community Hospital). 970.243.7908 (Grand Valley Midwives and Colorado West WomanCare)

GJ Birth Collective

A network of birth workers connecting local families to prenatal and childbirth resources, GJ Birth Collective offers support and care during pregnancy and beyond. Members include midwives, doulas, and chiropractors. Services offered include childbirth education, photography, lactation support, prenatal yoga, craniosacral therapy for infants and young children, and placenta encapsulation. gjbirthcollective.com

MarillacHealth

A Federally-Qualified Community Health Center, MarillacHealth has delivered babies since 2015. Offering full-scope primary care for all ages, MarillacHealth provides prenatal care alongside care for the entire family. Medical services are available to everyone and discounted for eligible patients on a sliding scale. All prenatal patients receive a binder of educational and local resource information. 970.298.1782

Nurse-Family Partnership, Mesa County Public Health Department

The Nurse-Family Partnership supports first-time mothers throughout pregnancy and beyond. Nurses visit eligible women in their homes to provide education and support. The goal is improved pregnancy outcomes, enhanced child health and development, and lasting economic self-sufficiency. 970.248.6900

SCL Health | St. Mary’s Medical

Center St. Mary’s offers the most comprehensive obstetric and newborn care in the region. Services available only at St. Mary’s include a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), a Maternal-Fetal Care Unit, and a telemedicine link to Children’s Hospital in Denver, with whom St. Mary’s is affiliated. Labor and Delivery at St. Mary’s is staffed 24/7 by an OB hospitalist. A hospital-based OB/GYN practice employees physicians and midwives. Childbirth education, including classes for siblings and younger mothers, is available. 970.298.2273 (SCL Health | St. Mary’s). 970.986.8900 (SCL Health Medical Group | OB/GYN)

SaintMaryMoments App

This is a free app from St. Mary’s for pregnant women and their families. Enter your name and due date to get started. A calendar screen shows the approximate size of the baby, along with how many days are left in your full-term pregnancy. Other features include extensive information on pregnancy, labor and birth, postpartum issues,breastfeeding, and newborn care. Available on the App Store and GooglePlay.

WIC Mesa County

A supplemental food program for pregnant women and parents of infants and young children, WIC Mesa County educates women to make healthy choices. Educational assistance includes meal planning, maintaining an appropriate weight, working and breastfeeding, and learning baby’s cues. In addition to mothers, fathers, grandparents, legal guardians, and foster parents of children younger than five may be eligible. 970.248.6914