Registered Nurse Mary Langhals has been delivering babies at St.Vincent Carmel since Day 1. Check out what she has to say about natural childbirth (a special focus of hers), memorable moments, and the Monogram Maternity experience.
What made you want to be an OB nurse?
My mother took in newborn babies from the hospital who were awaiting adoption. Sometimes we had these newborns for 2 to 4 weeks. I remember changing, feeding, and bathing these babies when I was only 9 or 10 and loving it! And later, when I first got out of nursing school — 25 years ago — there was an overabundance of nurses. I got a part-time night job in OB and ended up loving it. I’ve stuck with it ever since, and I’ve been at St.Vincent Carmel since it opened in 2002. You get to be part of a very special experience. No matter how long you do it, it’s still exciting.
Do you have a specialty?
I try to specialize in helping people through natural birth experience, that’s one of my passions, and I try to help promote that in any way I can. I try to promote mobility during labor and different labor support positions. I encourage the use of aromatherapy, massage. I’m really excited for when the labor room construction’s done. We’ll have three new labor tubs for comfort measures — not for delivery but for labor comfort.
We have a couple of portable fetal monitors that can be utilized to monitor the baby’s heart rate while the mother is still up and walking. Obviously, our number-one concern is a healthy mom and baby, so certain criteria must be met either for intermittent monitoring or the fetal telemetry to be utilized. I have an additional certification in Electronic Fetal Monitoring. Many of our L&D nurses have additional certifications pertaining to OB.
What do you think makes the difference for getting through the delivery without an epidural?
Being upright and moving around as much as you can but also mental focus — you have to be totally in control and focused to do it. It’s almost like you get in this out of body experience to do it. It’s some really deep focus. I did it twice, with my first two children, and I had an epidural for the third. I joke that I wised up for the third time around and went with the epidural. I have experienced birth both ways. It is definitely a personal choice.
What would you want first-time moms to know about delivery?
Keep an open mind. Your plan can change in a heartbeat. You need to be well-informed ahead of time but keep an open mind. You never really know how your body is going to react to labor and birth process.
I bet you have memorable moments all the time in this line of work.
Definitely. Just recently I had a patient who wasn’t born in the United States, and her mother couldn’t be here for her delivery. I told them we have Skype; they could Skype with her mother. That mother, when we got her on screen, was literally jumping up and down. I’m tearing up again just talking about it.
The mother didn’t think she would be a part of that delivery and then got to see her daughter in labor and right after the baby was born.
What do you think makes Monogram Maternity different?
It’s a much more personalized experience. We try to make it unique to each person and help each woman get the experience that she wants. It’s not mass production here like places I’ve worked in the past. We encourage our patients to meet with us ahead of time at predelivery appointments. We establish a relationship ahead of time, so when they come in and see one of us working, it takes away a whole level of fear — “Yeah, I know this place. I know these people.”
Women are more confident and comfortable with the care they’re going to receive.