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When Babies Come Early: Read Alicia's Story
Neonatologists step in when baby comes early
Date: 12/15/2010

The first weekend in June was supposed to be memorable for Alicia and John of Hamilton.  Family and friends were throwing two baby showers in anticipation of the birth of their twin daughters. But before the weekend got started, Alicia's water broke at 2:30 a.m. on Friday. Alicia knew her daughters were hoping to join the party.

Just two hours later, Alicia and John were at RWJ Hamilton delivering their baby girls, Ava and Havanna.  "I was fully dilated by 4 o'clock. I had an emergency c-section and by 5 a.m. I was in the recovery room," recalls Alicia.

Ava and Havanna's early arrival called for an evaluation by a neonatologist, a physician specially trained to care for premature and critical care newborns.

"Seconds and minutes matter when you deliver a child," says Director of Neonatology Marilyn Giorgi, MD, board certified in neonatal-perinatal medicine and pediatrics. "We have what we call the 'golden minute.' The minute after the baby is born which is critical to the baby's long-term outcome," she says.

Sometimes babies just can't wait for the "on call" doctor to arrive, so a neonatologist is onside at RWJ Hamilton 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is present during obstetric emergencies.  "Our goal is to help the babies thrive 
— getting them to maintain their temperature, feed on their own and grow," Dr. Giorgi states.

The Unexpected for the Expecting

Alicia and John celebrated when an ultrasound revealed Alicia was carrying twin girls. "My husband and I always wanted twins and we were very excited," she says.

When complications arose seven-and-a-half months into her pregnancy, Alicia's doctors from RWJ OB/GYN put her on modified bed rest.  "The doctors didn't want me on my feet," she recall, and instructed her to take maternity leave early.

Obstetrical complications that may require bed rest include multiple pregnancies, pre-eclampsia or hypertensive disorder, placental abnormalities, and pelvic tumors such as uterine fibroids, as well as non-obstetrical factors such as deep vein thrombosis or an orthopedic fracture.

Specialized Care for our Smallest Patients 

Premature infants have delicate systems that need special support including respiratory and nutritional care, both required by the McCann twins.  RWJ Hamilton's maternity services are enhanced by a Level II designated special care nursery, equipped to care for infants who are at least 32 weeks old and/or weigh about three-and-a-half pounds. Their care and progress is carefully monitored by a neonatologist.

Dedicated to newborns and their families, nurses here not only provide a more intense level of care to newborns, they also prepare parents for life at home.  The McCanns enjoyed that they could still be hands-on parents while their twins received expert care. "We are able to feed them, change their diapers, bathe them and clothe them," says Alicia, acknowledging the hospital walls are no barrier to the parent-child bond.

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