Babies prenatally diagnosed with birth defects often require specialized care before, during and after delivery. The Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit (SDU) has one of the most experienced teams in the world when it comes to delivering and caring for babies with serious and life-threatening birth defects such as spina bifida, congenital diaphragmatic hernia and congenital heart disease. In this video, Christie, a mom from Massachusetts who delivered her daughter, Naomi, in the SDU, introduces viewers to the unit, discusses what makes it unique, and shares details on what families can expect if they deliver there.
Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit: A Tour
Naomi's mom: When you're carrying a baby with a birth defect, you know the delivery is going to be different and very special. It's incredibly important you and your baby are surrounded by a team of experts in delivery and in providing the highly specialized care your baby will need.
That's how it was for me. I delivered my daughter, Naomi, in the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, or CHOP.
The Special Delivery Unit, or SDU, is located within CHOP's Richard D. Wood Junior Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, one of the first fetal centers in the world. The SDU is the world's first birthing facility within a free standing children's hospital, designed just for pregnant women carrying babies with known birth defects.
The dedicated staff in the SDU work together as a unified team. They have the most experience in the world delivering babies with prenatally diagnosed birth defects, such as spina bifida, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, congenital heart disease, and many others. Their skill is just part of the story. They're also very warm and supportive. I know this from experience during that incredibly challenging time, they made me and my family feel at ease and part of the CHOP family too.
Now, let's take a look at the space together. Everything about the unit has been designed with the wellbeing of parents and babies in mind. Rooms are comfortable and spacious with ample space for partners and family members to visit. You are always steps away from an expert team of labor and delivery nurses and doctors.
When it comes time for delivery, you will have peace of mind knowing you are in the very best hands. Since the SDU opened in 2008, it's team of high risk obstetricians and specially trained nurses, nurse practitioners and midwives have delivered more than 5,000 babies. If you're delivering by C-section, you'll be taken to one of the state-of-the-art operating rooms just down the hall.
Most of the time your partner can be with you. Mothers delivering vaginally can stay in one of the labor and delivery rooms within the unit. Your partner can be with you. If you are having fetal surgery, there is an operating room designed just for these procedures. The unit also has a quiet area where family members can wait.
The SDU team does a wonderful job preparing you for care, so you know what to expect. Well before my scheduled C-section, they explained every detail of what the C-section would be like and answered any and every question I had.
Deliveries are managed by a specialized team focused on you and your baby. They will be in constant communication with a team of specially trained neonatologists and nurses, called the neonatal surgical team. When your baby is born, they are immediately passed through a connecting window to the neonatal surgical team in the infant stabilization room. There, your baby will receive the specialized care they need, whatever that may be.
Your baby will then be brought to you for the first meeting before going to the newborn infant intensive care unit or cardiac intensive care unit nearby.
I'll never forget this joyous moment shared with the team.
After the delivery, you'll move to one of the unit's spacious postpartum rooms where the obstetrical team will oversee your recovery.
Lactation specialists will be there to help with pumping, breastfeeding, and milk storage. The psychosocial team will also be there to support the emotional and spiritual needs of you and your family before and after birth. They will help you feel ready to transition out of the hospital, taking into account all of your baby's needs.
For me, one of the most important things about delivering in the SDU is that I knew my baby would be in one of the very best intensive care units surrounded by some of the best pediatric specialists in the world. The NICU has separate area for babies who may need surgery, where they receive the highly specialized care they need, and bedside cameras allow you to get a realtime view of your baby, day or night on your phone or computer. When you're recovered after the delivery, you'll be able to visit your baby.
Words can't express what this moment meant. It wouldn't have been possible without the incredible caring team in the Special Delivery Unit at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I will never forget the experience of delivering in the SDU and especially the care providers.
They are like family. My husband and I talk about our nurses, funny things they've said, lessons they taught us, and the support they gave us almost daily, and we talk about them to Naomi. They are so much a part of our journey to parenthood.
Related Centers and Programs: Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit, Richard D. Wood Jr. Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment