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Erin's C-Section Recovery

by UPMC Susquehanna

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When Erin Rothrock faced serious complications after a C-section, The Birthplace made sure her recovery didn’t disrupt the mother-baby bond.

Emerson Rothrock’s first few days didn’t go as planned. Arriving September 24 at 6:20 p.m. by Caesarean section—22 days ahead of his due date—he was nonetheless in excellent health, weighing 6 pounds, 15 ounces and measuring 20 inches long.

His parents, Erin and Sam, spent an hour and a half bonding with him in the surgical suite, holding him skin-to-skin as the doctors closed Erin’s incision. In the recovery area, Erin’s mom, and their three other children, ages 6, 7 and 12, came to welcome and hold their baby brother. They had just left when Erin started to feel like something was wrong.

Natalie Miller, RN, and Emily Tate, RN, Erin and Emerson’s recovery nurses, were also concerned. Erin’s heart rate and blood pressure had dropped significantly. To assure immediate action, Natalie alerted the hospital’s rapid response team. As specialists filled the room, Sam stood quietly in the background holding their baby close.

“I knew they were there to handle things, and they encouraged me to stay. I used my Army training and waited to be informed and help where I could,” says Sam. “I did a lot of mouth swabbing and ice chip feeding to make Erin comfortable. Holding Emerson kept me calm. I looked at him, and he was looking back at me.”

Ready for the Unexpected

Up until that day, Erin had enjoyed an easy pregnancy. Her baby was scheduled to be delivered by C-section on her due date, October 16. When her water broke, she called her obstetrician, Dr. Robert Donato, who asked her to meet him at The Birthplace at Williamsport Regional Medical Center. Erin was not dilated or beginning labor, but without the protection of amniotic fluid, her baby needed to be delivered. The procedure went well, and the bonding time with skin-to-skin contact provided Emerson his first feeding and stabilized mom’s and baby’s vital signs and blood sugars.

But now Erin had a heart rate of 38 and extremely low blood pressure. Doctors were concerned that she was bleeding internally. Dr. Donato and Dr. Joshua Stutzman, the obstetrician on call, were consulted as she began receiving blood transfusions and IV fluids. The team transferred her to the intensive care unit, where they could better support her until the bleeding stopped.

“Everyone tried to keep things as light as possible. They were calm and professional, which helped keep me calm,” says Erin. “It was reassuring to have Sam nearby for support. I didn’t feel like I was alone.”

After a CT scan at 2 a.m., Drs. Donato and Stutzman decided to perform a second surgery to cauterize a bleeding uterine artery. It was 4 a.m., Emerson was in the nursery and Sam remained by Erin’s side wearing the scrubs that replaced his previous day’s clothes.

Surgeons stopped the bleeding and were able to spare Erin’s uterus. Altogether she received 11 units of blood as well as platelets and plasma.

Putting Families First

Erin returned to the ICU for her initial recovery, and although Emerson could not stay with her there, as soon as it was deemed safe, nurses from The Birthplace brought him for daytime visits.

“I could always tell when he was coming because ooohs and aaahs would erupt outside my door,” says Erin. “They don’t see a lot of infants in the ICU.”

In addition to providing comfort for both of them, the visits also helped Erin meet her goal of breastfeeding exclusively.

“They did an amazing job. At night, staff helped me pump so that I could get a good milk supply established. The lactation consultants were encouraging me that my milk came in on schedule and we were getting right back on track,” says Erin. “It seemed everyone was making special accommodations to help us bond and make it as ‘normal’ of an experience as possible.” Sam even had a place to sleep so he could continue to stay close to his wife and son.

“The needs of the patient and her family are the center of all our care decisions. Keeping mother and baby together is a priority to us, and we strive to accomplish that any way possible.”

“The needs of the patient and her family are the center of all our care decisions. Keeping mother and baby together is a priority to us, and we strive to accomplish that any way possible,” says LoriBeth Ryder, BSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, manager of patient care on the Pediatrics and Clinical Resource Team at The Birthplace. “When mothers must be separated from their infants for their own medical needs, The Birthplace staff will pursue any opportunity to bring them back together, even if only for a short time.”

After two days, Erin was moved into a labor and delivery unit at The Birthplace for two days before moving again to the postpartum unit, which is designed to promote bonding and preparation for going home. Erin appreciated how attentive and supportive everyone on staff was.

“I was so impressed with how the doctors and phlebotomists and nursing just stayed on top of everything. They were amazing,” says Erin.

Emerson and Erin went home just six days after his birth. With lots of help from family, Erin was able to rest, recover and get back to work as an outpatient mental health therapist within six weeks as originally planned.

Nearly one year later, Erin is pleased that Emerson is continuing to breastfeed. He is a happy, healthy little boy—one who received the best start possible even when things didn’t go exactly according to plan.

See What We Have to Offer

To schedule a 30-minute tour of The Birthplace, please call (570) 321-2069.