Giving Birth At South Health Campus: An Insider's Guide

I love finding out that a client will be birthing at South Health Campus (SHC).

Built from the ground up with family-centered care as a guiding principle, they are changing the face of maternity care in Calgary.

The staff is warm and friendly, with a strong emphasis on collaborative care. From a nurse bringing our client a breast pump because she saw on her birth preferences page that she wanted to try that to bring on stronger contractions, to geeking out about the benefits of TENS machines with one of the residents, I’ve had many lovely experiences supporting clients at SHC.

WHERE DO I GO WHEN I ARRIVE AT SOUTH HEALTH CAMPUS?

When you arrive at SHC in labor, make sure to park in B lot, also called the Forest lot (it’s the green one). The entrance can be found on the south side of the hospital and is the closest to the elevators you’ll be taking up to labour and delivery (L&D). All the parking lots, except for the lot designated for the emergency department, are underground and heated.

Make sure to grab a parking pass from one of the pay stations just inside the doors to the hospital on your way up to L&D. Once inside, you are looking for the sign directing you to the Inpatient Elevators (T2).

L&D is on the 7th floor and you’ll want to turn left as you get off the elevator. You’ll need to use the intercom button just outside the unit doors on the right hand wall to enter. Once on the unit, check in at the nurse’s desk, straight ahead.

B or Forest Lot at South Health Campus

B or Forest Lot at South Health Campus

The T2 Inpatient Elevators sign at South Health Campus

The T2 Inpatient Elevators sign at South Health Campus

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I ARRIVE AT LABOUR & DELIVERY?

A nurse will guide you to a private triage room where you, baby, and your labor progress will be assessed. If you are in active labor, you will be admitted to L&D. If not, you may be sent home, or instructed to go for a long walk and return for reassessment in a couple of hours.

Once you are in active labor and admitted to L&D, you will be assigned a nurse. Like all Calgary L&D units, SHC provides one-to-one nursing. This means that there is one nurse who’s primary responsibility is you. Excluding breaks and shift changes, your nurse will be in your room with you for the duration of your labor.

WHAT ARE THE LABOUR & DELIVERY ROOMS LIKE?

Your nurse will show you to your private L&D room. Unlike the other L&D units in Calgary, SHC does not transfer you, after your baby is born, from the L&D unit to the postpartum unit. You will be in the same room throughout your stay, so feel free to make it comfy.

The room lighting is very flexible – you have full control over how bright or dim your birthing space is. Dim lighting is a great way to get your oxytocin (the hormone that produces contractions) flowing! (Learn other ways you can make your L&D room a comfy labour cave)

L&D rooms at SHC are large and comfortable, with a second bed available for your designated primary support person (this can be any adult family member or friend), who is welcome to stay with you 24/7. One of my absolute favorite parts of the family-centered approach at SHC is that there is no limit on the number of support people you can have with you during labor. As the person in labor, you get to choose how many (or how few) people you want there.

I wasn't able to take a photo of a labour and delivery suite at South Health Campus, so please enjoy this adorable photo of kittens instead.

I wasn't able to take a photo of a labour and delivery suite at South Health Campus, so please enjoy this adorable photo of kittens instead.

WILL I HAVE ACCESS TO WATER WHILE IN LABOUR?

Each room has its own private washroom, with unlimited hot water. Sitting on a birth ball, in the shower, is a great way to cope with contractions – especially during the intensity of transition, just before you begin pushing. (Pro tip: make sure your birth ball isn't covering the shower drain - we may, or may not, have flooded a room once)

There are no birth tubs available on the unit, however, if you are under midwifery care and your midwife attends births at SHC, you can discuss the option of bringing your own inflatable birth pool for use during labor.

WHAT IF I NEED A CESAREAN BIRTH?

The operating rooms at SHC are on the third floor rather than being on the same floor as L&D. This means that if a caesarean birth becomes necessary, you will be transferred via direct elevator to the third floor. Unless you require general anesthesia, you are welcome to have one support person in the operating room with you, with additional support people at the discretion of the medical staff.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER MY BABY IS BORN?

Another lovely touch at SHC is getting to pick a song from a shortlist that is played throughout the entire hospital once your baby is born. I love hearing those songs come on and knowing that another baby has joined us earthside.

Postpartum stays are 24 hours for an uncomplicated vaginal birth and 48 hours for an uncomplicated ceasarean birth. If you have any questions or concerns about breastfeeding, you can request to meet with one of the lactation consultants on staff.

Meals can be ordered at your convenience anytime between 7:00am – 7:00pm. Visitors and your primary support person can access meals at one of the three restaurants in the hospital, or at the Gateway Retail District to the west. There is also a fridge, microwave, and dining area on the unit if you prefer to bring your own food and drinks from home.

The dining area on the labour and delivery unit at South Health Campus (I couldn't fit them in the picture but there are tables to sit at as well).

The dining area on the labour and delivery unit at South Health Campus (I couldn't fit them in the picture but there are tables to sit at as well).

WHAT IF MY BABY IS BREECH?

Currently, South Health Campus is the only hospital in Calgary that offers vaginal breech birth.

If your baby is breech at term, your primary care provider can refer you for a breech consult with the Obstetrics/Gynecology department at SHC. To be eligible for this option, you will be referred for an ECV (external cephalic version) first, to try and turn baby head down. If the ECV fails, you will be scheduled to meet with an OB/GYN from SHC who will discuss with you your eligibility for vaginal breech birth, as well as the benefits and risks of your options.

SOUNDS LOVELY! HOW CAN I GIVE BIRTH AT SOUTH HEALTH CAMPUS?

Maternity care spaces at SHC fill quickly and are usually reserved for families living in the south east area of Calgary. If you are interested in having your baby there, make sure to discuss this option with your family doctor early in your pregnancy.

~ Rachel

If you found this information helpful, you'll love having a doula with you throughout labour.

Did you have a baby at South Health Campus? What did you like most about your care? Did anything surprise you?

 

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Rachel Parris

Rachel is a DONA International Certified Birth Doula, Birthing From Within mentor, and mother of three. She is passionate about helping women and their partners discover their own inner strength and wisdom so that they can begin their parenting journey with confidence. With a focus on supporting her clients as they determine what their own priorities and preferences are for their birth while giving them the tools they need to realize those priorities, she feels fortunate to witness her clients come into their own and become their own best advocates.