Sydney Kenyon was born at Missouri Baptist Medical Center.

Photo by Elizabeth White

For many women, no single day changes their life more than having a baby. And for first-time moms especially, the prospect of giving birth can give rise to a lot of joy—but also questions and fears. “First-time moms sometimes have plenty of anxiety because there’s a lot of unknown, and they hear bits and pieces from friends and family, who often talk about things that can go wrong,” says Dr. Ann Marie Rockamann, an obstetrician/gynecologist who practices with Missouri Baptist Medical Center. “When I first meet them, it’s good to put things in perspective.”

Rockamann notes that the biggest concern for first-time moms is that there will be some problem with the baby’s health, followed by a fear that the birthing experience will be painful. “I calm them down, and tell them, Most babies are normal, most experiences are awesome. This is going to be fine, and we’ll work through it together.” The key, she says, is working in partnership with the patient to guide them through the different parts of the pregnancy. She notes that she and her partners in her practice, Drs. Laurie Klabi and Margaret Rempe, start the first appointment by getting to know the patient before explaining the overall plan for the rest of the pregnancy. “We have a compassionate group that works well together to guide our patients through the pregnancy to hopefully give them an excellent birth experience. We’ve all been there—we’re all moms and we know what they’re looking for and what they’re concerned with.”

Most moms are relieved once they have a plan in place, Rockamann says. “We talk about plans for the birth experience, and we ask our patients to be open-minded,” she says. “There are lots of thoughts flying through their head, so taking it in small steps lets them wrap their arms around it and understand the process.”

Choosing a hospital is an important part of the process, Rockamann notes. “Geography is important, but not mandatory because labor takes awhile. You want a hospital that can take care of your needs.” That includes having 24-hour anesthesiologists, pediatricians and obstetricians, along with a high-level neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). “Rarely do you need it, but when you do, you’ve got it.” She adds that moms want to feel like it’s all about them and their baby. “It’s very personal at Missouri Baptist, it’s so compassionate and it’s an excellent place to deliver. You get all the technology you need but the feel of a community hospital.”

Rockamann says that her goal for all of her patients is basically the same: To have a healthy mom and a healthy baby. “We want to try to avoid intruding and intervening in your birth, and make it as natural a birth experience as possible.” That means trying to avoid intervention such as cesarean section, induction or operative deliveries, although those options are sometimes medically necessary, she notes, adding that the mother’s preference guides her in choosing options such as elective C-section, VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section), epidural or immersion hydrotherapy.“We let your body do what it needs to do. As time goes on—if you need an intervention— we’ll discuss the pros and cons,” she adds.

"Mother Nature is much better at getting babies delivered than we are, so we go with what Mother Nature is doing. Then if we need to add something, we will,” Rockamann says. She adds that the end result is what’s really important, not the methods used. “As long as we get a healthy mom and a healthy baby, it’s OK, and you’ll be excited once you have your baby.”