Spring is the season of new beginnings – that is when flowers bloom, birds return and lots of new life is created, leaving the harsh cold of winter behind and allowing warmth and beauty to prevail.
At the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre, everyday feels like spring for staff of the labour and delivery room – also known as the Case Room. The miracle of bringing new life into the world is a rewarding and touching experience, and what better way to welcome spring than to share the experience of Tracey Carter, a registered nurse (RN) with Eastern Health for over 23 years!
For many years, Tracey has been fortunate to share in the great joy parents experience when their new baby is born. Tracey graduated from the Salvation Army Grace General School of Nursing in 1994, but it was only after practising for eight years that she found her passion in the specialty of labour and delivery.
It was in 2002 when Tracey was first introduced to the Case Room; this is where she fell in love with the challenging and rewarding environment that housed new, precious newborns. Tracey’s favourite sound in the world is to hear a newborn cry for the very first time, and it’s a baby taking its first breath of life outside the womb that brings joy to anyone who has the great fortune of experiencing it!
Tracey absolutely loves her profession, but it is her passion for providing high quality and safe care to her patients and families that is most important to her, and of course the immense amount of respect that she has for her coworkers. Tracey believes that providing the best possible care to her tiny patients comes as a result of the support from a great team of health-care professionals.
From practising the skills needed to prevent a potentially life threatening situation, to debriefing to discuss the results of their actions, it is evident that the multidisciplinary team, which consists of registered nurses, physicians and respiratory therapists, has a great deal of respect, trust and confidence for one another. They work together daily to provide a safe service for their patients and families, as well as each other – no matter what the circumstances.
Tracey is one of those people who cannot help but smile when she reflects on the experiences she’s gained while working as a registered nurse in the Case Room. Many families have told her that they can tell how much she loves her work, which plays a huge role in client satisfaction. Tracey can recall many occasions where she has been approached at a store or shopping centre by the wonderful people she has served from years ago – this shows how influential nurses can be in the lives of the people they care for, starting right at birth! Like Tracey, health-care professionals who are involved in the most profound and beautiful moments of life are often permanently etched in the memories of their patients, clients and families – and that is a true honour for any health-care professional.
Many aspects of Tracey’s role have changed since she began working as a labour and delivery nurse. Today, there is a great emphasis on being a baby friendly health facility, which focuses on continuous quality improvement in maternal-newborn health. Much of the emphasis of being a baby friendly health facility is centred around promoting the bonding of families and their new baby.
For example, years ago, Tracey recalls that babies were kept in the nursery away from their mothers, while today, Eastern Health has adopted the practice of 24-hour “rooming-in”– a practice that enables the baby and mother to only be separated, if necessary. This is a healthy choice for families because it lets parents care for their new little one while health-care staff is around to help, if needed.
In line with being a baby friendly health facility, another change at Eastern Health is promoting skin-to-skin care, also known as “kangaroo care.” This is where immediately after a baby is born, he or she is placed on the mother’s or father’s bare chest. Skin-to-skin care allows a new baby to stay at an ideal temperature; it also helps to regulate the baby’s breathing and heart rate, using the least amount of energy, while keeping the baby calm and comfortable. Not only is it an excellent way of bonding or soothing a newborn, but having their babies close by will help new parents also recognize early signs of hunger.
Another recent change Tracey has seen is delaying baby’s first bath. Since 2015 at Eastern Health, babies have not been bathed until 24 hours after birth because research shows that the vernix that remains on their skin following delivery is protective against infection (Colwell, 2015). This practice leads to improving a baby’s abilities to control their body temperature, bond and breastfeed. Eastern Health has come a long way in educating and promoting the benefits of bonding because as Tracey recalls, these practices were outside of the norm compared to many years ago.
As seasons have come and gone over the years, Tracey’s field has also seen new types of challenges present, including the need for more surgical interventions during childbirth which can be attributed to increased maternal age, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. No matter what change life can bring, Tracey believes that challenges help her focus even stronger on providing higher quality and safer patient care.
While there have been many changes to Tracey’s field over the years, the enthusiasm, focus and dedication she has for her position has remained constant. Tracey is proud to work with a team who has the privilege of celebrating new life every day. While life may be full of blessings, Tracey thinks that delivering a baby into this world is certainly one of the biggest blessings of all!
For more information about the Baby Friendly Initiative, the benefits of skin-to-skin care and other initiatives, please visit www.babyfriendlynl.ca.
This story was written by Crystal Northcott, regional program consultant for Eastern Health’s Children’s and Women’s Health Program.
Colwell, A. (2015). To bathe or not to bathe: the neonatal question. Neonatal Network, 34(4), 216-219.