Boom times for Bloomin’ Babies

Junction birth center adds staff, gains hospital privileges

Certified nurse-midwife Patty Kandiko listens to fetal heart tones while Brooke Kissner lies on an exam table at Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center.

Birthing suites like this one at Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center allow room for women in labor to move around.

Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center, 2241 N. 7th St., has delivered 115 babies since it opened in October 2013.

Story by Sharon Sullivan/Special to the Sentinel

The staff at Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center has delivered 115 babies since certified nurse-midwife Patty Kandiko and her husband, Dick, began offering expectant mothers an alternative location to give birth nearly four years ago.

The Grand Junction-based facility continues to grow, gaining access to St. Mary’s Hospital at the end of last year and adding a third certified nurse-midwife last month.

Women who give birth at Bloomin’ Babies, 2241 N. Seventh St., are choosing a natural childbirth, meaning they are foregoing the option to receive pain medication or epidural anesthesia, which is available only at hospitals. Instead, Patty Kandiko and certified nurse-midwife Jeana Smith offer other methods for dealing with labor contractions, such as moving around and changing positions, laboring and/or birthing in a tub of warm water, and using relaxation techniques such as slow, deep breathing.

“We have a blow-up soft birthing stool our moms really like,” Kandiko said. “We have a lot of tools to help moms manage their labor. We approach it from a positive viewpoint.”

A third certified nurse-midwife, Karin Vandervelde, joined the practice in June. Vandervelde is a nurse practitioner, as well.

Birth centers provide an alternative to giving birth in the hospital or at home. While Kandiko cannot perform a cesarean, or administer drugs for pain relief, she is trained in neonatal resuscitation and CPR, and can administer medications to stop postpartum hemorrhage. 

And being located a couple doors down from St. Mary’s Hospital means Kandiko can transport a woman in labor within minutes should a complication arise. When Kandiko has transported a woman to the hospital it has usually been due to the mother’s “exhaustion” and desire for an epidural, she said.

Bloomin’ Babies midwives were given “hospital privileges” at St. Mary’s in December, which means they can accompany their clients and deliver their babies in the hospital (unless a cesarean is necessary, which is performed only by a physician).

“It’s great for continuity of care,” Kandiko said.

In the past the midwives were required to turn over care of their clients to the physician on call. Kandiko attributes the new policy to St. Mary’s obstetric hospitals Mike White.

“He realized that (birth centers) are an option that a lot of women use around the country, although it’s (relatively) new here. He was willing to work with us and accept our clients if needed. We all want the same thing — a safe birth with a healthy mom and baby.”

The cesarean rate for Bloomin’ Babies clients is 4.5 percent, compared to the national average of 30 percent, Kandiko said.

There are two dedicated birthing suites at Bloomin’ Babies, with other rooms available if the need should arise. Each birthing suite features a queen-sized bed, large birthing tub, birth and peanut balls that encourage the baby’s descent and the pelvis to open, and a hammock that hangs from the ceiling that the laboring mother can lean into to maintain an upright supported squat position. Nitrous oxide is also available for “taking the edge off” without the numbing effects of anesthesia.

Only women considered low-risk — meaning they cannot have diabetes or hypertension and are willing to eat and drink healthily and participate in their own care — are eligible for care, Kandiko said. She encourages clients to educate themselves about pregnancy and birth so they know what to expect and can help facilitate the natural progression of labor.

Tours and an orientation are offered at the birth center at no cost or obligation. Clients meet with and get to know each of the midwives over the course of their pregnancies. At the birth, there is always at least one certified nurse-midwife as well as a registered nurse.

There’s also a kitchen where families are welcome to store snacks or cook food. A huge bulletin board with community resources related to childbirth hangs in the “education room” where there is a lending library of prepared childbirth books that clients may borrow. A postpartum support group meets there twice a month.

Cedaredge resident Brooke Kissner came for her prenatal appointment with her two younger children in tow last week. In one of the exam rooms, Kandiko gently palpated Kissner’s abdomen to check the fetal position. She also listened to the baby’s heartbeat.

Kissner’s other two children were born at a hospital in another town. At the beginning of her current pregnancy, after waiting 45 minutes for a two-minute visit with an obstetrician who she said scoffed at her questions, she decided to seek out another option. Several people referred her to Bloomin’ Babies.

“I wanted something to support my goal to have a natural delivery, as opposed to nurses coming in constantly asking me if I’m ready for an epidural,” which happened during her other two births, Kissner said.

Bloomin’ Babies also provides well-women exams for all ages that include pap smears, breast exams and birth control measures. The nurse-midwives additionally treat abnormal bleeding problems and menopause issues.


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