Special Delivery Unit - CHOP | The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment

Special Delivery Unit

Learning your baby has a birth defect is a life-changing experience. It requires you to think about your pregnancy and delivery in a new light. As your mind races with “what ifs” and “what could have beens,” know this: You are not alone.

The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has been offering hope to families since 1995. Our Center team is recognized worldwide for its skill, experience, compassion and excellent outcomes. Though our specialties and training differ, every one of our healthcare professionals share a common goal: caring for you and your child.

Mother and ChildIn June 2008, our Center opened the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit, the world’s first birth facility specifically designed for mothers carrying babies with known birth defects. Babies born here will either undergo fetal surgery to treat the birth defect before birth or need immediate specialized care or surgery soon after birth.

Today, more than 1,805 babies — with many different fetal diagnoses ranging from congenital diaphragmatic hernia to spina bifida — have been delivered in the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit.

Families from all over the world have chosen to deliver their babies in the Special Delivery Unit because of our expert prenatal care, customized delivery plans and extensive experience caring for babies with birth defects and their moms.

Watch our video to learn more about the services provided by the SDU »


Complete care for mothers and baby

The Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit at Children’s Hospital allows mother and child to be simultaneously cared for at one premier facility by a team of leading clinicians.

Before the unit opened, mothers who had infants who needed surgical intervention were often separated from each other immediately after birth. At many locations, the mom had to remain at the hospital where she gave birth, while the infant was transported to a specialized pediatric hospital for intensive care, treatment or surgery.

The separation of mom and baby compounded an already difficult time as families grappled with the reality of their baby’s birth defect, possible treatment options and neonatal care.

Today, the Special Delivery Unit completes the circle of care for expectant mothers carrying babies with birth defects. From initial consultation at the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment through diagnosis, prenatal monitoring, treatment before or after birth, delivery and beyond, our Center team focuses on meeting the needs of you and your baby in one location.

Our unit is different from other high-acuity delivery units. We don’t just provide care for premature babies or those born with low birth weight. We provide care for babies with serious and life-threatening birth defects. This is our mission and our passion. We are constantly researching new ways to improve care, treatment and outcomes for these fragile babies and their families.

We never forget that in the SDU, we are caring for two patients: your baby and you. While your newborn is receiving the world’s most advanced medical, surgical and nursing care, you’ll experience an equally high standard of delivery and postpartum care.

Creating the SDU: Filling a need

When the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment was launched in 1995, N. Scott Adzick, MD, the Hospital’s surgeon-in-chief and medical director of the Center, recognized a need for a maternal fetal center at CHOP.

Dr. Adzick and Lori Howell, MS, RN, executive director of the Center, believed their team could provide the best outcomes for patients by providing care to mom and baby before, during and after birth. Completing the spectrum of care was paramount to the family-centered mission of the Center.

Dr. Adzick and Ms. Howell shared their goal of creating a delivery unit within the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at CHOP. The concept struck a chord with Hospital Trustee Lynne Garbose and her husband Bill, both longtime supporters of CHOP.

They provided the lead philanthropic gift to create the Special Delivery Unit. To learn more, see the Garbose family story.

Features of the unit

The SDU is unique: It is one of the only freestanding maternal/fetal centers located within a pediatric hospital in the United States.

The Special Delivery Unit includes:

Everything in the Special Delivery Unit — from the artwork to the room design — has been designed with your health and well-being in mind. Complete obstetrical care is provided by our experienced staff of obstetricians, maternal fetal medicine specialists, anesthesiologists, OB nurses and others.

Read about the Special Delivery Unit team

Additional features of the unit include:

Rooms designed for you and your family

You are encouraged to bring a support person to be with you during your labor, delivery and hospital stay. The room is large enough to allow additional family and friends to visit during the day — including siblings of the new baby.

Personal touches — from a soft, comfortable robe for you to a family gift-basket — encourage you and your family to celebrate the birth of your baby.

SDU Delivery Room

On-site expertise

When your baby is born in the Special Delivery Unit, you and your baby receive the best care before and after birth. Your baby has access to the nation’s leading doctors and nurses in every pediatric specialty. Center staff collaborate closely with the Hospital's Fetal Heart Program for expert diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart anomalies, the most common birth defect.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia shares the No. 1 spot on U.S. News & World Report's 2014-15 Honor Roll of the nation's Best Children’s Hospitals. Newborn care in CHOP’s Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit was also ranked No. 1 in the country by U.S. News.

Nursing at Children's Hospital has also been publicly recognized. The Hospital earned the Magnet Award for Nursing Excellence three times after a rigorous voluntary application process that proved Children's Hospital excelled in leadership, quality improvement, interdisciplinary relationships and quality of care. Studies have proved that hospitals with Magnet status have lower mortality and morbidity rates, better patient outcomes and a shorter length of stay.

Time with your baby

The team strives to get you to your baby’s bedside as soon as possible. When your baby is transferred to the N/IICU or the Evelyn and Daniel M. Tabas Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) — both located near the Special Delivery Unit — the SDU team will continue caring for and monitoring your physical needs and comfort.

You can spend as much time with your baby as your medical team allows. In some cases, an OB nurse may accompany you to the N/IICU or CICU when you visit your child to ensure you are getting the postpartum care you need.

Keeping in touch

Technology can help you keep in touch with your friends and family who can’t be with you in the Hospital. Every room is equipped with wireless Internet access and computers are available for use in the Connelly Resource Center for Families.

We also provide parents with secure Internet CarePages™ so you can share news and photos of your new arrival in one place and everyone to whom you’ve granted permission can keep up to date with your baby’s progress.

Resources for parents

The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment has a wealth of resources for parents and many will be helpful to you during your stay in the Special Delivery Unit and beyond.

SDU team members will answer your questions about everything from lactation/breastfeeding options to where your family can stay near the Hospital. Some common questions and answers are featured in the about your stay section.

Continuum of care

After your child’s birth in the Special Delivery Unit, you and your family remain a top priority to the Center.

If your infant remains in the hospital at the time you are due for your postpartum office visit, we can provide that care on-site so you can spend more time close to your baby. The Center team will make sure your physicians back home are updated by phone and email and that your medical records are complete.

Meet our moms who have experienced the expertise, compassion and clinical excellence in the Special Delivery Unit at Children's Hospital. Their stories inspire and offer a real-world view of the services we provide. 

Contact us

For more information about the Special Delivery Unit, fetal surgery, fetal care or to request an appointment, call 1-800-IN-UTERO (1-800-468-8376). 

June 2012

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Tour the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment

Take a tour of the center, including our unique Special Delivery Unit.
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How One Family
Helped Thousands

Read about the Garbose Family’s personal reason for providing the lead gift to create the Special Delivery Unit at CHOP in Hope Delivered.


Meet Our Kids!

Check out some of the amazing children born in the Special Delivery Unit since it opened in June 2008. See the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment's page on Facebook and our SDU photo album!