Weather Updates

Natural birth focus of new center at La Grange Hospital

Mark Elizabeth Pappalardo LaGrange Park hold their sMark Adventist LGrange Memorial Hospital. The couple had their shospital’s Natural Birth Center

Mark and Elizabeth Pappalardo of LaGrange Park hold their son, Mark, at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. The couple had their son in the hospital’s Natural Birth Center Aug. 29.

storyidforme: 55589024
tmspicid: 20354970
fileheaderid: 9429718

In one of the suites in the Natural Birth Center, Mark Pappalardo held his newborn son, Mark, in his arms.

The room was quiet, with the Pappalardos having the entire space to themselves. The LaGrange Park family was the first to have a child born in Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital’s Natural Birth Center, on Aug. 29, a few days before its official opening.

Elizabeth Pappalardo was looking to have a water birth, and she was going to go to Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, she said. The hospital offers water birth there. But when she went into labor, her midwife suggested she go to Adventist La Grange Memorial instead.

Both the suites in the center have large inflatable tubs suitable for water birth.

Pappalardo tried the tub, but got too warm to stay with it, she said. Her labor went quickly, as well, so even by the time she arrived, she was very close to delivery.

Fortunately, her room had another amenity available to help her deliver her baby.

“It was nice to be able to walk over to the queen-sized bed instead of a hospital bed,” Elizabeth Pappalardo said.”

The couple gave birth to their first child at Hinsdale Hospital two years ago. The experience was a good one, Mark Pappalardo said. But the birth center had its advantages.

“It didn’t feel like a hospital,” he said. “It felt like being at home.”

The center was slated for an official opening Sept. 1. But the timing of the Pappalardo’s birth was perfect, said Laura Vorgic, obstetrics educator and informatics nurse liaison with the hospital.

“She was due, and we were ready,” Vorgic said. “We were very excited to have her.”

The hospital hosted an open house for the center Sept. 15.

“We are very happy to offer these services to the community,” said Mary Murphy, vice president and chief nursing officer. “It is a wonderful complement to the full range of women’s services that we offer at our hospital.”

Beth Helme-Smith, a certified nurse midwife with OMG Women’s Healthcare, was the midwife who worked with the Pappalardos. OMG Women’s Healthcare and its natural birth midwives division has partnered with La Grange Hospital on the establishment of the birth center.

“It was fabulous,” Helme-Smith said of the first birth. “I actually got to do the first birth and the third birth there, and the patients were all really happy. The staff is so enthusiastic, welcoming, friendly and excited about this whole program.”

Elizabeth Pappalardo wanted a natural birth process for her second child without any interventions, and this time, she was up and mobile just hours after giving birth, which made her happy.

“I felt a million times better,” she said.

The second birth Helme-Smith took part in occurred Sept. 7. Jessie Young of Tinley Park gave birth to her third daughter, Noemy.

“Everything was really nice and clean, and the staff was friendly and helpful,” Young said. “The midwives were just fabulous. When I think about having a natural birth, this is what I envisioned.”

Young had a water birth, and she was pleased with the large, soft-sided tubs the hospital offered. It gave her room to maneuver as she needed.

She was also comfortable knowing that, if she needed it, hospital services were right down the hallway from her room.

Though Helme-Smith said her group expected mothers would go home earlier after birth, in line with the natural experience they seek, she’s actually seen the opposite.

“Every patient has found it to be a quiet, a peaceful place where they spend quality time bonding with their newborn and establishing feedings,” she said. “They enjoy the quiet, home-like atmosphere.”

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.