Published on September 04, 2017

Dr. Clare Harney's Story

As an OB/GYN, Dr. Clare Harney knows the birth experience doesn’t always go as expected.

She too experienced the unexpected as a first-time mom. More than two years ago, her son, Abel, was born at 35 weeks after a long induced labor and an emergency C-section. In respiratory distress, the newborn had to be intubated and rushed to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where he spent the first two weeks of his life.

Dr. Clare HarneySo for her second delivery, Dr. Harney wanted an OB/GYN and a birth center that had the expertise to do a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean, or VBAC. She found that with Dr. Shannon Leveridge, her colleague at Genesis Health Group, Bettendorf OB/GYN, and the Genesis BirthCenter in Davenport.

Supporting VBACS

“VBACs are not done at every hospital,” Dr. Harney says. “At one of the hospitals I previously worked at in Chicago, only one doctor would do them and very rarely. It depends on the physicians who work at the hospital.

“I knew (Dr. Leveridge) would do her best to support my vaginal delivery. I also knew the nurses at the Davenport BirthCenter are very comfortable with VBACS. They are excellent at helping women with vaginal delivery; I work with them and know they take personal pride in vaginal deliveries.”

Genesis labor and delivery nurses are trained to help women switch positions during labor to increase their chances for a vaginal delivery. “That training is reflected in the fact that Genesis vaginal delivery rates for first-time moms are the highest in the state of Iowa,” Dr. Harney says. “Recovery is faster with a vaginal delivery, and it’s healthier for the baby, too.”

In addition, the BirthCenter has round-the-clock anesthesia available. “Having an anesthesiologist in-house during an active labor also makes it safer to do VBACs,” she adds.

The doctor as patient

Although Dr. Harney delivers babies at the Davenport BirthCenter, she was pleased to experience a patient’s point of view when her daughter, Maggie, was born June 7, 2017.

“When I had Abel, he was intubated right away and taken to the NICU, and I didn’t get to see him until eight hours after he was born. It was a totally different experience to deliver my second baby and pull her up to my chest immediately after birth. She never left our side the entire time she was at the hospital, which was totally different and amazing.

“I was excited to be having a healthy baby and to be delivering at a BirthCenter that is working toward a Baby-Friendly designation. At the Davenport BirthCenter, we allow women to hold their babies right away and keep them with mom for the first hour. We don’t do measurements…we delay clamping the umbilical cord…to help moms and dads bond with baby right away. I’m very happy to tell women that’s standard practice at our hospital.”

Her husband, Alex, also had a good experience during Maggie’s delivery and, unlike at Abel’s birth, he was able to be very involved in the birthing process.

“I was induced, so there was a lot of waiting,” Dr. Harney says. “My husband appreciated being able to hook up his X-Box to the TV and download our own recorded TV shows, movies, and music.”

The couple also liked the comfort of their BirthCenter room. “The window was nice; the labor and delivery room was beautiful and set up to help with a vaginal delivery – the bed is different… there are comfort devices to help you deal with labor… and hydrotherapy,” she says.

“After you give birth, you move to a postpartum room designed to help you take care of a newborn, have visitors and be more comfortable. The bathroom is large to help you feel comfortable while recovering. Walk-in showers have chairs to sit in. Having two different rooms – a room to labor and deliver in and another for recovering -- makes sense and allows us to offer women many comforts and conveniences they wouldn’t be able to have otherwise.”

Of course, she was able to enjoy such amenities since her second birthing experience was non-emergent. “Having choices and comfortable surroundings are very nice, but so is the comfort of knowing the BirthCenter and its providers also can handle a high-risk birth and a safe delivery,” she concludes.