Chet and Kristine Tucker

Women's Health | 7 days ago

Atrium Health Maternity Experts Provide Best Care for Moms and Babies

Meet Chet and Kristine Tucker, first-time parents from Rock Hill, South Carolina. Our collaborative maternity care team provided compassionate support and customized care as the Tuckers welcomed baby Sophia into the world.

Childbirth is one of the most life-changing experiences parents will ever go through. While every birth story is unique, it’s often a time filled with excitement, anticipation and a measure of anxiety.

First-time parents Chet and Kristine encountered some unexpected twists and turns while welcoming daughter Sophia June into the world on January 31. Atrium Health maternity experts were with them every step of the way, providing customized support and comfort.

Monitoring Heart Rate, Stabilizing Contractions

At 36 weeks, Kristine had her last scheduled ultrasound. The sonographer noticed that the baby’s heart rate dropped for a few seconds. A nonstress test was recommended to monitor the baby’s heart rate. The test was reactive, which reassured the medical team that the baby was doing well. So Kristine went home that day.

At 39 weeks (on January 30), two days before Kristine’s scheduled induction, she had a final nonstress test to make sure everything looked good for delivery. The test showed that Sophia’s heart rate was dropping, but there was no way to tell in utero why this was happening. Tammy Reyes, certified nurse midwife with Atrium Health Women's Care Piedmont OB-GYN, recommended that Kristine and Chet go to Atrium Health Pineville to begin the induction process.

“I don’t know how the experience could have been better,” says Chet. “When we arrived at the hospital around 2 p.m., they had people waiting for us. Everything was nice and smooth when we checked in.”

Dr. Tricia Silverton, attending OB-GYN with Atrium Health Women's Care Piedmont OB-GYN, started the induction process. She inserted a manual cervix expander into Kristine’s cervix to help with dilation. After about three hours, Kristine’s water broke.

On January 31, as Kristine’s labor progressed, she woke up around 4 a.m. with complications.

“The medical team was able to stabilize her after she experienced a high fever, nausea and vomiting,” notes Chet. “Kristine was having some very erratic contractions. They were peaking and not stopping, causing her a significant amount of pain despite having an epidural.”

At 7 a.m., Kristine started having more severe contractions. The anesthesiologist helped stabilize the contractions and get Kristine more comfortable. Sophia’s heart rate was being closely monitored.

Proactive Delivery

At 10:15 a.m., Sophia’s heart rate started to drop, prompting Kristine’s entire medical team to enter her room. Silverton said it was time to deliver.

“Sophia was in fetal distress, and Kristine had developed chorioamnionitis, an infection of the fluid and tissue surrounding the baby,” Silverton explains. “Kristine wasn’t dilated fully and not even close to qualifying for a vaginal delivery. Because Kristine’s cervical exam was unfavorable and Sophia was in distress, a cesarean section was the best course of action.”

As they wheeled Kristine out of her room, Reyes, who saw Kristine throughout her pregnancy, was the last person Chet and Kristine spoke with before the procedure.

“She assured us that we were making the right decision,” explains Chet. “She said how important it was that we were being proactive and not reactive. That assurance was very comforting.”

Kristine’s uterus became boggy, meaning it was no longer firm. During her C-section, Silverton gave her some medications to help her uterus become firm and to prevent significant bleeding following delivery.

At 11:02 a.m., Sophia arrived safe and healthy.

Collaborative Care Across the Community

Atrium Health Women’s Care Piedmont OB-GYN recently expanded by opening an office in Fort Mill, South Carolina, allowing it to serve the needs of the growing community. The other offices are located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and the Southwest Charlotte, North Carolina, neighborhoods of Ballantyne and Steele Creek.

Patients can see providers at whichever location is most convenient for them. The staff includes 13 OB-GYNs, nine midwives and three nurse practitioners, with plans to add two new doctors in the fall. All patients deliver at Atrium Health Pineville, which is recognized as a Best Hospital for Maternity Care by both U.S. News & World Report and Newsweek. Atrium Health Pineville is also recognized as a Best Hospital for Maternity Care by Money.

“Our team of midwives, advanced practice providers and physicians offers collaborative care across all our offices,” says Silverton. “We communicate well and support each other. Since we all know what’s happening with our patients, we can provide continuity of care.”

“Everyone on our team works great together,” explains Madeline Overcash, registered nurse with Atrium Health Pineville’s labor and delivery unit. “Since we’re all on the same page, our patients can be confident in our ability to deliver the highest standard of maternity care.”

Silverton prioritizes listening to her patients and treating them like she would her own sister or best friend.

“It’s very important to listen to the patient since they know their body and how they feel,” she says. “We need to consider everything they’re experiencing – whether it’s pressure, discomfort or pain – and help them to feel more comfortable. We also provide specialized care for patients with diabetes or hypertension.”

Importance of Nursing Care

According to Overcash, nursing care is especially important for first-time parents.

“Your nurse is your first-line resource – from when you arrive at the hospital to when you go home with your baby,” Overcash notes. “We do everything we can to make sure mom has everything she needs to be comfortable throughout labor, delivery and recovery.”

Making patients feel comfortable includes providing education and answering all their questions.

Audrey Lammers, registered nurse with Atrium Health Pineville’s labor and delivery unit, explains, “I provide education on inductions, including the medications we use. We also discuss postpartum recovery, including bleeding changes, postpartum depression and pain management. During this process, we consider the patient’s birth plan and preferences.”

The hospital staff, including the nurses, made Chet feel right at home. “I wasn’t the patient, but I felt like I was part of our daughter’s birth,” he says. “They answered all my questions. They showed me where I could get patient hospitality, including drinks and snacks. The experience far exceeded my expectations.”

Since every birth story is unpredictable, Lammers says nurses have to be “quick on their feet” and “know how to read the patient.”

“During labor, I love how I’m providing one-on-one care during one of the greatest moments in life,” Lammers explains. “I love getting to know parents and their family dynamic. I also love the little ones and being able to see parents form a relationship with them during the postpartum period.”

Leader in Community, Outcomes

Atrium Health Women’s Care provides nondiscriminatory, individualized and compassionate care throughout the community. This elevated standard of maternity care contributes to success stories, like the one from the Tuckers, and exceptional outcomes.

“We have one of the lowest primary C-section rates in the area,” notes Silverton. “This is because of how well we care for our patients and our efforts to not intervene too quickly during labor. If we get to the point where a C-section is the best option, we know we haven’t rushed to that decision. We give patients enough time to labor – or progress to labor – following induction.”

In addition, Atrium Health Women’s Care offers baby-friendly care and education. The staff supports patients from the very first OB-GYN visit and throughout postpartum recovery. Lactation support is available to patients during their hospital stay and after they return home. (This service is not available at all hospitals in the area.) Midwife care, which empowers women in their health care decisions, is also available in a safe and comfortable hospital setting.

Implicit Trust

Silverton is happy to be entrusted with such a vulnerable part of her patients’ lives, as she focuses on the safety and well-being of both the mother and the newborn.

“It encourages me to continue to do my best,” Silverton notes. “We focus on the patient as a person. When we can enhance their experience, our patients can walk away with confidence in the care we provided.”

Kristine says, “We were taken care of in every sense. Every question we had was answered. The level of professionalism and the heart of our maternity care team were unmatched. They were so understanding and empathetic to our situation as first-time parents.”

Chet adds, “Throughout our experience at Atrium Health, there was never a question that we made the right decision for the safety and comfort of our family.”

Exceptional Postpartum Care

Kristine’s postpartum recovery is going well. She calls her six-week checkup with Reyes a “great experience.” Reyes asked her about pain, pelvic floor issues and diastasis recti (a separation of the abdominal muscles that can occur after childbirth). Reyes referred Kristine to pelvic floor physical therapy to help with her recovery and to improve her abdominal muscles. Reyes cleared her to resume low-intensity exercise.

Kristine had weekly physical therapy appointments with Denise Owens, a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor physical therapy at Atrium Health Carolinas Rehabilitation.

Kristine explains, “I technically labored and had a C-section, so there was some internal healing that needed to happen. My ab separation was about 3 ½ fingers wide. After weeks of physical therapy, it’s down to only one finger wide. I also had some pelvic floor issues that have since healed.”

Sophia is doing great. “She’s got great facial expressions – just not a lot of hair yet,” says Kristine. “She’s a great sleeper and eater, so we’re very fortunate.”

Learn more about maternity care at Atrium Health Women's Care.