Bethesda Hospital East

Bethesda’s Center for Women & Children Launches New Family-Centered Maternity Care Program

May 9, 2012

Just in time for Mother’s Day, one of the busiest maternity hospitals in Palm Beach County is introducing a new concept in the care of new mothers and their newborns called Family-Centered Maternity Care.


This new program, which launches Friday, May 11, keeps new mothers and babies together from the moment of birth, and keeps them together in the same room, cared for by one mother-baby Registered Nurse. This mother-baby nurse helps new families understand their newborn’s needs and allows for individualized care during the newborn’s first days of life.


“There is something that is so special about the bond that happens when a mother sees her newborn for the first time, and now, Bethesda is enhancing that bond to strengthen the entire family unit during their hospital stay,” said Geralyn Lunsford, Vice President, Patient Services.


In traditional maternity hospitals, babies are typically cared for immediately after birth in the newborn nursery setting and then returned to the mother. As part of Family-Centered Maternity Care, the newborn is placed skin-to-skin on the mother’s chest immediately after birth, allowing for the most intimate contact between mother and infant. This “magic hour” is the time when babies are alert, giving parents and babies the best opportunity to get to know each other. All baby care then occurs in the mother’s room, where the baby will stay right next to mom. 


Advantages of Family-Centered Maternity Care:

  • Care that adapts to the mother and baby, promoting family bonding
  • More support and opportunity for successful breastfeeding
  • Better communication between the obstetrician, pediatrician and nursing team

Developed by nationally renowned expert Celeste R. Phillips, RN, of Phillips & Fenwick, in Santa Cruz, California, there are now several hundred Family Centered Maternity Care programs around the country. In helping Bethesda transform its maternity center, Phillips has been working with Bethesda’s nursing staff since January to help them transition to this new form of mother-baby care. She has taught all Bethesda’s nursing and support staff and makes periodic calls to check on their progress.