Having a Ball in Labor!

Having-a-ball-photoYes, it is true—we want you to have a ball while you’re in labor! That’s because we will may recommend you use a birthing ball (a physical therapy/ exercise ball) during your labor and delivery. The birthing ball is versatile and valuable tool used to promote the labor process. It can be used while standing, sitting, or lying in bed, even with an epidural.

Great reasons to consider using the ball include:

  • Mobility, alignment and opening of the pelvis to create space for the baby to move down into position.
  • Upper body support when standing, leaning over the ball on the bed or kneeling and resting forward over the ball while in bed.
  • Back, hip and pelvic pressure and pain relief.
  • Optimal position to receive support from your partner, either behind or to the side of you.
  • To speed up the process of labor.

having-a-ball-2We have labor balls in a variety of shapes and sizes and nurses who are experienced in using them to help you in labor! Using a labor ball is one strategy to consider to improve your birth experience, decrease the length of labor and increase your chance for a vaginal birth.

Tussey, C.M.; Botsios, E., Gerkin, R.D., Kelly, L.A., Gamez, J & Mensik, J. (2015). Reducing length of labor and cesarean surgery rate using a peanut ball for women laboring with an epidural. The journal of Perinatal Education, 24(1), 16-24.

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Three NICU Nurses Receive DAISY Award


Sherrill Forney


Daniele Lin


Erin Zimmerman

Overlake celebrated THREE DAISY Award winners: Sherrill Forney, Daniele Lin and Erin Zimmerman – all Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) RNs who were nominated for their compassionate care of our youngest, most precious patients.

The trio was nominated by the mom of a baby who spent more than two months in the NICU.

Sherrill’s “encouragements and mentorship on caring for our fragile, premature baby have played a huge role in lessening our anxiety and fear as new parents,” wrote the mom in her nomination letter.

In her letter nominating Daniele, she wrote: “From the beginning, Daniele has always greeted us with a big smile, continuously advocates for our baby’s needs, and genuinely wants to help us in any way possible.”

And in her letter to nominate Erin, the mom wrote, “I was scared to death about losing (my baby) when I learned that she had to get heart surgery at 5 weeks old.” She added, “Holding her, I remember thinking—will I get to hold her again after her surgery? Will I still get to be her mother? Those thoughts consumed me. What makes Erin so special is her calm composure in helping me regain faith in that (my baby) will get through this. Erin has helped me look forward to the future when I struggled to do so.”

We congratulate Sherrill, Danielle and Erin for being named August DAISY Award winners!

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Newborn Umbilical Cord Care

Caring for your baby’s umbilical cord stump is simple and easy. Keeping the cord clean and dry is essential, and it should fall off on its own within the first few weeks. Listed below are current recommendations for providing proper care for your baby’s umbilical cord:

Keeping the cord dry:

  • Use sponge baths and avoid submersion until the umbilical stump falls off.
  • Exposure to open air when able will help the drying process

Keeping the cord clean:

  • Avoid putting anything on the umbilical stump (rubbing alcohol was once recommended for cleaning the stump, but this is no longer common practice).
  • If the cord becomes sticky or dirty, it is appropriate to clean with water and then air dry or use absorbent cloth.
  • Keep your baby’s diaper folded down to avoid covering up the stump.

Let the stump fall off:

  • The stump should fall of on its own (do not assist with the process by pulling on it).
  • You may notice mild bleeding or drops of blood when the stump falls off – this is normal!
  • Typically umbilical stumps will fall off within the first few weeks – be sure to contact your baby’s pediatrician if it remains at 2 months of age.

While rare, it is important to be aware of signs of infection. Be sure to contact your baby’s pediatrician if you notice oozing or discharge from the umbilical site, redness around the base of the cord, or crying when touched around the umbilical cord or surrounding skin.

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Overlake Hosts 5th Annual NICU Reunion

Photo of several Overlake NICU reunion participants.Smiles, laughter and love filled Overlake Medical Center on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, during our fifth annual Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) reunion.

It was an opportunity for 68 families to reunite with the providers who had cared for the little ones who had once been NICU patients. In all, 245 attended, including seven sets of twins. The children ranged in age from 6 months to 19 years.

“We just want to tell the nurses thank you, because they were just phenomenal,” said Andrew Huskamb, father of one little former patient, during an interview with Q13 News. “We were so grateful that they were here for us.” (Visit this link to watch the Q13 News story.)

“It’s so heartwarming to see the families again, because once they leave here, we don’t necessarily know how they are doing,” said event organizer and NICU nurse Stephanie Gillis. “They parents are coming to thank us as well as show off their babies because in a way, it’s a product of our work.”

“Parents have been through the gamut of experiences, some here for three days, some three months in the hospital,” added NICU Manager Lynne Saunders. “Many wondered if their child would survive so it’s wonderful to see how proud the parents are of how their children have come.”

Parents, graduates and siblings enjoyed a bouncy house, frosting cookies, decorating with sidewalk chalk, face painting, touring a fire truck and many more activities. Thanks to all who made another reunion a FANTASTIC success and SO MUCH fun! See you next year!

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Breastfeeding: It’s Good for Mom, Too

Breastfeeding-graphicWhen it comes to breastfeeding, it is well established that breast milk is beneficial for babies. But many people don’t take time to consider how much the mother also benefits from breastfeeding. Numerous studies confirm the many advantages for mothers who breastfeed their babies, and the longer a mother breastfeeds, the more profound and long lasting are the benefits.

Aug. 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week and provides a good opportunity to review and celebrate all the benefits nursing offers mothers. Nursing burns additional calories, so it can help a mother lose pregnancy weight faster. Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Nursing also lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It may lower the risk of osteoporosis, too. Breastfeeding has been shown to decrease insulin requirements in diabetic women. There is also a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in mothers who do not have a history of gestational diabetes.

Since breastfeeding mothers don’t have to buy and measure formula, sterilize nipples, or warm bottles, it saves time and money. The average non-nursing mom spends over $3,000 a year on formula, while a good quality breast pump can be found for under $300 – and under the Affordable Care Act, mothers may even get one for free. It also gives regular time to relax quietly with the newborn, promoting bonding. It is environmentally friendly, producing little waste, packaging or pollution.

Needless to say, mothers certainly receive significant benefits from nursing and should be encouraged to do so – not only for their baby but also for their own health. It is a true privilege to work with new mothers at Overlake Medical Center. When we champion breastfeeding and give mothers the encouragement they need to push through the exhaustion of the first few weeks, we are setting into motion a healthier generation of mothers and their children. That’s worth celebrating!

Happy 2017 World Breastfeeding Week!!

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Applause for Lauri Grossman, DAISY Award Winner

IMG_4343_croppedCongratulations Lauri Grossman, Overlake Labor & Delivery RN, for being selected as our June DAISY of the Month Award winner!

Lauri was the nurse for 12 hours of a long labor for a patient in April. “Lauri was absolutely incredible. She made us both comfortable, was exceptionally helpful, and just kind,” wrote the patient’s husband in a letter nominating Lauri for the award. “I could not have pictured a better nurse to help my wife through a tough experience. She went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that our baby was safe and my wife was as comfortable as possible. I was blown away by her care and how quickly she connected with us.”

Lauri even returned the next day, on her day off, to meet the new baby and give a gift. “I can’t imagine a more worthy candidate for this award,” the patient’s husband wrote. “She simply was incredible, and my wife a couple days later keeps saying she doesn’t know how she would’ve made it through pain, discomfort, confusion without Lauri Grossman. You’re lucky to have her on your Labor and Delivery team!”

We agree 100%! Way to go, Lauri!

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2017 March of Dimes a Success

March of Dimes - March for Babies - 2017 - cropped

We thank Team Overlake for making 2017’s March of Dimes our best yet!

Nearly 140 Overlake staff gathered their friends and families and joined the March of Dimes Walk for Babies on May 6, 2017, and raised an impressive $31,348, surpassing our goal of $28,000!

A sea of pink filled the streets as we celebrated and raised money for healthier, stronger babies. We were an enthusiastic team, both in raising funds and marching. And that enthusiasm continues – our team champions are already planning for next year’s walk, when one of our goals will be to have more NICU graduates and their families join us.

Special shout outs to Ena Yoon for raising over $1,000 and Liza O’Bryan for registering the most walkers. Both won Bellevue Square gift certificates for their achievements.

Ena Yoon

Ena Yoon

Liza O'Bryan

Liza O’Bryan

Interested in joining our team for 2018? Sign up here.

If you have any questions about March for Babies, check out the organization’s frequently asked questions.

We look forward to seeing you out there next year!

#MarchofDimes #TeamOverlake

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Understanding Newborn Cluster Feeding

iStock_breastfeeding_000013188397XSmallMany new parents are surprised by how often newborns eat. Cluster feeding, also called bunch feeding, is when babies space feedings closer together at certain times of the day and go longer between feedings at other times. This is very common, and often occurs in the evenings. It is often – but not always – followed by a longer sleep period.

There are several reasons why newborns cluster feed. Baby may be “tanking up” before a long sleep or trying to help increase your milk supply or simply finding the peace and comfort of feeling full and comforted in their happiest place – with YOU!

Remember, cluster feeding is common and expected. Giving unnecessary supplementation can interfere with your milk supply and actually increase the fussiness.

Your newborn may nurse every hour or nurse constantly for up to 4 hours straight.
Cluster feeding often coincides with your baby’s fussy time. Baby will nurse a few minutes, pull off/cry, nurse a few minutes, pull off, fuss/cry…for hours. This can be very frustrating, and mom starts to wonder if her newborn is getting enough milk or something she is eating is bothering the baby. This behavior is normal and has nothing to do with your milk or your mothering. Some infants will start cluster feeding within the first two weeks of life and it can continue until your baby is 3-4 months old.

During this time, enlist help. Make yourself comfortable and nurse as long and as frequently as your baby wants. Have others bring you food, drink, or whatever else you need.

If your baby’s wet or dirty diapers have decreased, appears to be cluster feeding 24 hours a day, or appears to be in pain, notify your pediatrician and schedule an appointment with your lactation consultant right away. See Overlake’s Breastfeeding Support page for more information and resources.

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Safe Donor Milk Supports Fragile Babies

One of the best recent medical advances is the use of human milk to nourish very low birth weight infants. It is a wonderful resource that helps save lives and decreases the incidence of diseases in these babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Nutrition supports the use of pasteurized donor human milk in infants of very low birth weight when their mothers’ own milk supply is insufficient.

The use of donor milk is encouraged when appropriate steps are taken to screen, collect, store, process and distribute human milk through established channels.

Human milk—a biological product— carries a possible risk of contamination similar to other biological products, such as blood. Informal milk sharing without pasteurization may expose infants to viruses like HIV, cytomegalovirus or hepatitis. It is also possible for human milk to contain environmental toxins, such as pesticides, mercury, medications, drugs or herbs. Concerns over donor milk safety led to the creation of milk banking— a term used to describe a service that collects, screens, processes, pasteurizes and dispenses by prescription human milk donated by nursing mothers.

In light of the advantages of human milk, informal milk sharing is a new trend in many communities. However, the AAP strongly discourages use of informal milk sharing because of the risks it poses. As with any other health-related decision, mothers who choose to share milk informally need to weigh the risk versus the benefit to their babies. They need to take whatever measures they deem necessary to ensure the safety of the milk they are obtaining for or giving to babies.

Donor milk banks provide a safe supply of the human milk used in the hospital setting. At Overlake, we’re proud to operate a Mother’s Milk Depot, where moms can donate their breast milk to infants in need.

If you have or know someone with an over-abundance of breast milk and would like to help, please contact donatemilk.org.

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We’re Raising Money & Awareness Again for March of Dimes

march-for-babies-2016 March-for-babies-2017Overlake Medical Center is very happy to be stepping up again to support the March of Dimes March for Babies 2017! This will be the fourth year we welcome staff, friends and our former Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) families to join the Overlake team. Every year we wear our pink team shirts and walk to support healthy babies and mothers.

This year the walk is May 6, 2017. Please join us – either with a donation or as a team member! Visit marchforbabies.org/team/overlake for details.

We would LOVE IT if you decide to register as a walker! We suggest a minimum walker donation of $12. Once you’re registered, if you don’t already have a pink team shirt, please contact Lynne Saunders at lynne.saunders@overlakehospital.org with your unisex shirt size. Orders will be placed on April 17. We hope to have a “sea of pink” T-shifts showing Overlake’s support for March of Dimes AND our place as a top fundraiser in King County!

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