Birthing center a comfort to parents, families

Northern Hospital of Surry County
New mom Loren Belk along with her three children Kate, William and baby Henry. All four were born at Northern Hospital of Surry County. -

This is the second of two articles bringing readers the stories of a few parents who have brought their children into the world at The Birthing Center at Northern Hospital of Surry County. The first part was published Sunday, May 13.

Coordinated Care

Before arriving at the Birthing Center, expectant mothers are seen regularly at Northern Hospital’s longstanding OB/GYN Clinic, where their prenatal care is directed by obstetricians Druery DeVore, MD and Michael Gentry, MD. For the first eight months of pregnancy, patients are typically seen once a month at the Clinic site, and then weekly as they enter the final month of pregnancy.

Clinic nurses and other caregivers, with whom patients develop a strong and trusting relationship, are instrumental in helping patients make a smooth transition to the equally competent care of the Labor & Delivery staff in the Birthing Center.

In addition to a core nursing staff and four full-time medical specialists, the Birthing Center boasts a half-dozen generously-sized patient suites, a triage station, a fully-equipped operating room (for C-sections and other specialty procedures), a Level II Neonatal ICU (for newborns requiring oxygen support and/or IV fluids or antibiotics), a centralized fetal-monitoring system, and eight gynecological patient rooms.

All Birthing Center nurses provide educational assistance to new or repeat moms in the areas of infant care, breastfeeding, and post-pregnancy dietary/health advice. Every effort is made to reinforce the importance of the mother/baby connection and ensure the long-term physical and emotional health of both mother and infant.

“We encourage skin-to-skin contact between mom and her baby immediately after birth,” explains Wright. “This is known as the ‘Golden Hour’ – where Mom and baby bond – and it improves the baby’s breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar.” Such mother/baby bonding also promotes the production of colostrum, a nutrient-rich pre-milk for breastfeeding — which makes breastfeeding more successful.

“We also delay the first bath – which not only helps stabilize the baby’s temperature, vital signs, and blood sugar, but also further promotes successful breastfeeding,” adds Cade Wright, MSN, RNC-OB, who serves as director of the Birthing Center & Women’s Services.

Educational programs are also offered to expectant moms prior to the birth of their babies. Led by Toni Christofferson, RN, one of the Birthing Center’s long-time dedicated nurses, all-day seminars are offered to help moms prepare themselves physically and emotionally for the arrival of their babies. Information is provided about basic tools and techniques – such as birthing balls and relaxation and breathing exercises – that may help ease the pain of labor. Attendees are also informed about anesthesia choices and breastfeeding do’s and don’ts.

Family Amenities

While the focus of attention is directed primarily to mom and baby, Birthing Center specialists understand that having a baby is a family affair. To that end, every effort is made to accommodate the patients’ larger circle of family and close friends.

“We are a family-friendly provider — and offer a number of amenities to help families enjoy and celebrate a new addition to the family,” says Wright. Visiting hours are flexible (although, for health and safety reasons, visitors are limited to three at a time); and an over-sized sleeping chair is provided so dad (or another relative) can stay overnight with mom and baby in their private suite. Hand-knitted hats and booties, soft blankets, and other seasonally-related gift items are presented to the new parents. A specially-engraved silver spoon, donated by the hospital’s Food & Nutrition Services staff, is also provided for each baby.

When hunger pangs strike, moms and dads can now request something to eat from the Birthing Center’s new “Room Service” program menu. “Our patients are young people – and they want cheeseburgers and pizza; not fish and succotash!” says Wright. And, within the next few weeks, the Birthing Center will also offer special coupons – made available through the generosity of the local Chick-fil-A eatery — for a bountiful “First Night Home” meal basket that new moms can get after being discharged from the hospital.

Loren and Henry

If anyone can multi-task with equal measures of poise and aplomb, it’s Loren Belk — a busy mother of three who also works part-time as a pediatric physical therapist. Resting momentarily on the living room sofa of her new home, Loren cuddled her sleepy newborn son Henry as she promised to help her 5-year-old daughter Kate find Barbie-doll accessories and kept a careful watch on the playful antics of her 2-year-old toddler William.

When Loren and her family moved back to Mount Airy in September of last year, she already knew she would be having her third child at Northern Hospital. “We lived in Winston-Salem when I got pregnant, but I knew I wanted to have that one-on-one, personalized care that is the hallmark of the Birthing Center.”

Loren’s familiarity with Northern’s Birthing Center is, well, part of her family history. For starters, she was born there 31 years ago; and all three of her children have opened their eyes for the first-time in Mount Airy’s community hospital.

“I had some complications with William’s birth, and it sometimes got scary for me – but my nurse never left my side the entire time,” recalls Loren. “And this time, with Henry’s birth, labor had to be induced since I was past my due date. But Dr. DeVore was wonderful and all the nurses were there for me, too — every step of the way.”

Shortly after giving birth to Henry (on Feb. 15, 2018), Loren, along with her husband Brandon, a marketing manager, readied themselves for the steady stream of well-wishers who would begin making their way to the Birthing Center.

“I was very grateful for the clean and spacious suite we had – especially since we have a large family and everybody came,” said Loren. “It honestly felt like being at a four-star hotel.”

“It’s a great hospital, with caring professionals and wonderful service,” said Loren. “When I tell my friends in Winston-Salem about the kind of personal attention I received, they’re all very impressed by the care I received.”

For more information about Northern Hospital’s Birthing Center, visit online at or call 336-719-7374.

New mom Loren Belk along with her three children Kate, William and baby Henry. All four were born at Northern Hospital of Surry County. mom Loren Belk along with her three children Kate, William and baby Henry. All four were born at Northern Hospital of Surry County.

Northern Hospital of Surry County