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Dream delivery: Lancaster mom welcomes baby with first water birth at Penn State Health Lancaster Medical Center

Darian Burger, a Lancaster County resident, was 20 weeks pregnant with her fourth child. Due to a slipped disc in her back, she wanted a medication-free labor and delivery — just like she’d had with her second and third pregnancies. She knew what to expect, including the pain. But halfway through her pregnancy, she learned that the new Family Birthing Suite at Penn State Health Lancaster Medical Center offered water births.

She decided to transfer her care to that hospital.

“It was a dream come true,” Darian said. “I’ve always wanted to try a water birth because I’ve heard it’s so much more relaxing.”

She met with the experienced physicians and nurse-midwife at Lancaster Medical Center — all of whom are focused on providing safe, personalized care. They support birth plans that include the latest pain management medications and those that are medication-free.

Located on the same floor as an operating room for both planned and unexpected cesarean sections, the Family Birthing Suite’s private rooms feature dimmable lights, aromatherapy and even Bluetooth speakers for preferred playlists. Four of the rooms include special tubs for warm water immersion during labor and birth.

A family gathers around a hospital bed and smiles.

Darian Burger enjoys the company of husband Chad and children Juliano, Mitchell, Jacob and Maxwell following the birth of baby Rosemary Jane.

On April 25, Darian became the first patient to use one of those birthing tubs. When she met her midwife, Rachel Rodemaker, at the Family Birthing Suite, Darian’s cervix was seven centimeters dilated. She waited until she reached nine centimeters before she had her midwife help her into the water.

“I was like, this is amazing,” Darian said. “I just couldn’t get over how relaxing it was. The warm water, the dim lighting. What a wonderful way to have my baby!”

Her contractions slowed down once she entered the tub, and she wasn’t ready to push for about an hour. She spent that time laughing and joking with her care team and expressing her amazement at how wonderful the water felt. Then, she labored for about 12 minutes. Her midwife told her to just listen to her body and push when she felt she had to.

“It all happened so quickly,” she said. “It was just incredible.” Immediately after birth, her baby was lifted out of the water and placed on Darian for skin-to-skin bonding. Then, nurses helped Darian and her still-attached daughter, Rosemary Jane, out of the tub and onto the bed.

“I honestly feel so good,” Darian said just a few days after delivering her nine-pound, four-ounce, 21-inch baby girl. “I can’t believe I just had a baby.”

While the birthing tub was pivotal to her positive experience, Darian also credits the care team at the Family Birthing Suite for making everything so special.

“Dr. [Matthew] Heckman, Rachel, the nurses — they’re so open to birth plans and so attentive and respectful. They’re all about the mother and the baby, and we couldn’t have been in better hands.”

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