Chelsea M This Mom Had the Birth Experience She'd Always Hoped For

“I felt supported every step of the way”

When Chelsea Martin-Burkhardt, 31, and her husband, Brandon, of Toms River, discovered they were expecting their first child, they were excited. But, like many soon-to-be parents, they were also nervous. On top of the usual stressors of pregnancy, Chelsea’s pregnancy coincided with the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I wasn’t able to prepare by taking a hospital tour or going to Lamaze class and meeting other moms,” says Chelsea. “But I felt supported every step of the way.”

Steven Culbert, MD
Steven Culbert, MD

Chelsea was in the delivery room when her best friend gave birth with the help of a midwife, so she knew she wanted a midwife-assisted birth, too. She turned to Ocean Gynecological and Obstetrical Associates, an RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group practice affiliated with Community Medical Center (CMC).

“We’re the only practice in the area that has a combined obstetrician/gynecologist and midwife service,” said Steven Culbert, MD, an OB/GYN who was involved in Chelsea’s care.

“Our goal is to provide a safe and personalized experience and ensure that each patient is able to have the birth she wants.”

The team of obstetricians and certified nurse-midwives—who provide the full spectrum of obstetric and gynecologic care—uses a collaborative approach to patient care, so Chelsea alternated prenatal appointments with physicians and midwives.

“I had the option to attend my appointments virtually, but I always chose to go in person,” she says. “It made my pregnancy feel more normal, and the emotional support of the staff helped to ease my fears. The staff always took the time to answer all of my questions.”

In addition to honoring the choices of the patient, the practice’s physicians and midwives work together to reduce the need for Cesarean sections. They do this by ensuring that a caregiver is with the patient at all times during labor.

“Our approach offers a safety net and makes patients feel comfortable,” says certified nurse-midwife Lori Sherman, MPH, MSN, CNM. “Even when a patient opts for a midwife, she has access to a physician if an emergency situation arises.”

CMC OB/GYNs are experienced in delivering twins as well as performing versions (manually turning babies that are in the breech position) and vaginal births after Cesarean.

Comprehensive Care

One day, at 28 weeks, Chelsea began experiencing sharp pains and feared her baby was in danger. She rushed to CMC and learned that she had a kidney stone, which was unrelated to the pregnancy. Since she was entering her third trimester, she was cared for in the Labor and Delivery unit as a precaution.

“It gave me a chance to meet the Labor and Delivery nurses at CMC,” says Chelsea. “It made me feel comfortable with the birth experience I was going to have.”

At CMC, board-certified obstetricians, anesthesiologists, and neonatologists are available 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Nurses specialize in both maternity and newborn care. A Level II Special Care Nursery provides care for newborns who are born as early as 32 weeks. Patient rooms are private and equipped with jacuzzi tubs, birthing balls, squat bars, and other amenities. CMC also offers childbirth preparation courses and certified lactation consultants.

Virtual Childbirth Education

Community Medical Center offers virtual childbirth education classes. The childbirth series provides tips on nutrition during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and newborn care. The breastfeeding class offers information about techniques, positions, and day-to-day management.

To register for one of these classes, which are offered once a month, call (732) 557-8034.

A Successful Delivery

In late June, two days past her due date, Chelsea noticed that she wasn’t feeling the baby’s usual movement. Worried, she called her healthcare provider and was told to go to the hospital immediately. Fetal monitoring confirmed that the baby was moving normally, but Chelsea’s amniotic fluid was low and labor would need to be induced.

After the induction, Chelsea labored with the support of nurses and midwives, including Sherman. They helped Chelsea get into different positions to keep her comfortable. She used a squat bar and birthing ball during labor.

“I felt like I had so many options,” says Chelsea. “The equipment made my labor faster and easier.”

Shortly after midnight on July 1, August “Auggie” Hope Burkhardt came into the world, weighing 7 lbs., 4 oz. Chelsea and her husband were not allowed to leave the hospital room due to COVID-19, but they found the nursing staff to be very helpful.

The nurses taught the couple how to swaddle, burp and bathe the baby—and distinguish among different types of cries.

“As a first-time mom, it was important for me to feel comfortable, safe, and respected,” says Chelsea. “I found that at Community Medical Center.”

Learn more about maternity services at Community Medical Center.