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Women’s Health

Ariel W.

Mom Whose Needs Weren’t Met Switches to St. Luke’s and Finds a True Partner

Ariel W. of Bethlehem, a sales consultant, fitness instructor and self-proclaimed Pinterest enthusiast, is a firm believer in living and practicing a healthy lifestyle. “Around 14 weeks, I started feeling like my needs weren’t fully being met by my provider,” says Ariel. “Rather than stay the course, I sought a new doctor. That’s when I found St. Luke’s Riverside Women’s Healthcare.”

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Ariel W., 27, of Bethlehem, a sales consultant, fitness instructor and self-proclaimed Pinterest enthusiast, is a firm believer in living and practicing a healthy lifestyle. So when she became pregnant with her first baby, she not only maintained her healthy practices, she kicked them up a notch, researching and putting into practice everything she could from essential oils to pregnancy super foods, to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery in the most natural, healthy way.

For Ariel, part of her “healthy pregnancy and delivery” mission included finding a doctor who really listened to her terms of care. She did her homework, researched and studied all the latest medical and health recommendations even before she became pregnant, so she wanted a physician that could be a true partner by supporting her and getting to know her. “Around 14 weeks, I started feeling like my needs weren’t fully being met by my provider,” says Ariel. “Rather than stay the course just because I had started there, I sought a new doctor - someone who really got to know me and who would understand my healthy, holistic philosophies - that’s when I found St. Luke’s Riverside Women’s Healthcare

Ariel was looking for a practice that focused on natural births and a birthing experience similar to what she’d get at a birthing center, but in a hospital setting. She wanted a relaxed environment where she was the one “running the show.” At her previous practice, she felt treated like a number, ever mindful that she was on someone else’s timeline. When Ariel discovered that Riverside only had three doctors compared to the possibility of having up to 30 random doctors deliver her baby, she knew she found the right place. “My former practice told me that it was uncommon these days to know the doctor that was on call for delivery,” recalls Ariel. “But that was unacceptable for me - I wanted to know the doctor who would help me bring my child into the world and because I chose Riverside, I did!”

But Ariel’s mostly holistic, natural birth plan was inhibited by the fact that her water broke at 34 weeks, causing her to go into preterm labor. “My entire labor was not exactly as I planned, but the labor and delivery team was so accommodating and helpful,” remembers Ariel. “They really encouraged me to communicate what my body was doing naturally and they let me know what was and was not a realistic option for me in terms of pain management - I felt so supported, like I had a tribe there for me in a time of vulnerability and need.”

Ariel says that while her baby was delivered early and she didn’t know what kind of health issues her little girl would have, the doctors and nurses did everything they could to prepare her and keep her comfortable and in control during a time that could have easily escalated to panic. Ultimately, Ariel’s baby was delivered by two of Riverside’s three doctors who Ariel knew and trusted; Shenali Abeysekera, MD and Christin Gillier, MD both delivered little Rowan Lily, weighing in at 5 pounds, 3 ounces and 18 inches long. “Ariel was a fantastic patient,” says Dr. Gillier. “From the first time we met her, she made her intentions clear, and we continually communicated throughout her pregnancy, getting to know her and what she wanted which ultimately helped us help her labor without an epidural and safely deliver her baby girl.”  

Since baby Rowan came early, she had to spend 11 days in the NICU. “Having a baby in the NICU was definitely not what I had planned,” says Ariel. “But the NICU staff was always there for my baby and me, both physically and emotionally, which made the situation so much better.” At her post-delivery office visit, Dr. Abeysekera stressed that Ariel should prioritize taking care of herself - drinking a lot of water, resting and asking others for help. “If I had a question, Dr. Abeysekera and the other doctors were always there for me,” explains Ariel. “Dr. Abby even called me a few times to check in on me - recovery was so much easier because I felt so supported and cared for, even after I left the hospital.”

Ariel suggests that when searching for an obstetrician, women should have a clear objective and strategy for their pregnancy and birth and find an OB who respects and supports it. “Think about how you want your labor and delivery to go and look for a practice that has your same views,” advises Ariel. “Every woman has a different outlook on how they bring their babies into this world and it is a very personal experience, so don’t let anyone take that from you by not getting to know you and your wishes.”

Ariel says that because she sought that personal relationship with the doctor who was going to help deliver her precious baby, she was treated with respect, like a woman who was going through a natural process of giving life, not like a number by someone who needs you to get out of a bed that’s needed for someone else. “St. Luke’s made my experience unique,” says Ariel. “They catered to me and what I valued and desired and that’s why the birth of my baby was so special.”

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