Planning, they say, makes perfect. But little about the end of Claudia’s last pregnancy went as planned. “First I was diagnosed with preeclampsia,” says the four-time mom. Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious – even fatal – complications for both mom and baby. Or in Claudia’s case, babies, as she was pregnant with twins.
Of course, Claudia’s doctors weren’t going to risk her health or the health of her boys, so she was admitted to Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital well ahead of her due date. “I was on bed rest for about three weeks before I even went into labour,” she explains.
With a room right in the mother and baby unit, Claudia was in good hands. “All the nurses were so concerned about me", she says. “It was a really supportive environment.”
Once the twins arrived, Claudia was eager to bundle them up and get home to her two older children. But that’s when the plan changed yet again: “My boys were having trouble feeding and were struggling to gain weight the way they should,” she recalls.
Again, her doctors were there immediately, transferring the twins to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) without delay. The expert NICU team quickly stepped in to make sure the boys were getting all the calories they needed through feeding tubes, and then carefully monitored their progress. Their comprehensive support meant that Claudia could rest and recover, knowing the boys would reach their critical early growth milestones.
325 infants were cared for in Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in 2018
Of course, healthy babies need healthy families, so the NICU’s care teams work hard to support parents, as well. Nurses, social workers, lactation consultants, care coordinators and other experts are on hand around the clock to make sure families are looked after during an extremely stressful time. “The NICU really is a special place,” Claudia says. “The care is so personal.”
This exceptional level of family-focused care will get even better as we shift our innovative Woman and Child Program to the new Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital in late 2020. That state-of-the-art NICU will be outfitted with the latest lifesaving equipment and include space for skin-to-skin care, which according to the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation can help infants gain weight and develop healthy brains.
Mackenzie Health is creating a comprehensive centre of care for pregnant and labouring women, high-risk newborns and children at Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital.
Claudia’s positive experience in the NICU has inspired her to look for ways to support this special new resource through her own fundraising initiatives. “This is a community effort,” she says. “And, small or large, every contribution matters.” Especially, it seems, to some of our tiniest patients.