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Overcoming Pregnancy Complications, Breastfeeding Challenges with the help of Mother Baby Team at Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital

  • 17 January 2024
  • Author: Natalie Counts
  • Number of views: 609
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Overcoming Pregnancy Complications, Breastfeeding Challenges  with the help of Mother Baby Team at Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital

When Sullivan, Mo. resident, Natalie Shanks, 25, found out she was expecting in late 2022, she was excited to begin her journey to motherhood. As the newborn photographer at Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital, she had spent countless hours in the hospital’s Mother Baby Unit meeting newborns and their parents and documenting those first family photos. And now, she was able to look forward to starting her own family.

Given her familiarity with Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital and its Mother Baby Unit, Shanks chose to receive her prenatal care with the hospital’s team of prenatal and childbirth care providers. Her pregnancy was fairly routine with normal blood pressure readings and no signs of distress. Then, at around 36 weeks, Shanks suddenly experienced elevated blood pressure.

“I was at work down the street from the hospital and thought I was going to pass out,” said Shanks. “My coworker decided to drive me to Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital to get checked out. My blood sugar level had dropped, and my blood pressure had risen. Thankfully, my baby looked good on the monitors.”

After Shanks ate something, her blood sugar level rose and her blood pressure seemed to stabilize, allowing her to go home with orders to return to the hospital if anything changed. The following week, at her 37-week appointment with Sarah McKee, FNP, CNM, a family nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife at Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital, Shanks’ blood pressure was elevated again, indicating she had developed preeclampsia, which is a pregnancy complication. This prompted McKee to request an induction, meaning Shanks would be having her baby a little sooner than she had planned.

“At this point in her pregnancy, there were concerns that her preeclampsia could quickly progress and create serious risks for Natalie and her baby,” said Amirah Tan Abdullah, MD, an Ob/Gyn at Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital. “So, we needed to deliver her baby as soon as possible.”

That same evening, Monday, May 22, 2023, Shanks arrived at Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital’s Mother Baby Unit to begin her induction. Unfortunately, her blood pressure continued to increase, so she was given magnesium sulfate to help prevent possible seizures. Dr. Tan was also brought in to manage her labor and delivery.

Dr. Tan is one of the hospital’s prenatal and childbirth care providers, offering personalized, compassionate care for expectant moms, understanding their needs and concerns, and collaborating with their patients to create birth plans that support their labor and delivery wishes. Part of the Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital Medical Office, Dr. Tan also offers management of low- and high-risk pregnancies, genetic testing and counseling, ultrasounds, and virtual visits (in certain cases).

Shanks’ labor and delivery wasn’t easy. After 36 hours of labor, there were moments when a C-section seemed inevitable, but Shanks persevered with the support of Dr. Tan and the labor and delivery nurses. On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, she gave birth to a baby girl named Ellis.

“Dr. Tan and my nurses were so supportive while I was delivering Ellis, encouraging me to keep pushing,” said Shanks. “The cord was wrapped around Ellis’ neck, and I started hemorrhaging, which was scary. But my team rallied around us to get her here safely without having to go the C-section route.” 

Shanks’ postpartum journey was a bit tougher than her labor and delivery. She spiked a fever on the second night at the hospital and was still dealing with some preeclampsia complications.

“I was having trouble sleeping and getting Ellis to breastfeed,” said Shanks. “The nurses encouraged me to sleep. They also spent hours helping me get her to latch. They were incredible! Had they not done that, I think I would’ve given up. I even called them after I got home when I had more questions.”

After Shanks and her baby were discharged home a few days later, Dr. Tan continued to follow up with her, calling every day to check on her. Two weeks later, Shanks landed back in the hospital with upper abdominal pain, vomiting, and elevated blood pressure. She was then diagnosed with gastritis. Fortunately, the medical staff was able to stabilize her, and within a few weeks, Shanks was finally feeling normal.

“It was a wild ride for me, and then Ellis developed long-term jaundice that required additional care at St. Louis Children’s Hospital,” said Shanks. “But six months later, we’re both doing great thanks to the support and care we received.”

Dr. Tan is happy to see Shanks doing well today. “I was delighted to have Natalie as a patient. She is wonderful, easy going, determined, and goal-oriented,” she said. “I’m also glad she was able to safely deliver her baby girl the way she wanted, and that they’re healthy and thriving.”

For more information about Dr. Tan or Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital’s Mother Baby Unit, please call (573) 860-6000.

 

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