It was a mild June day in 2017. At St. Philip Neri Church in Queen Village, where 100 people were gathered for Bridget and Ryan’s wedding, sunlight ribboned through the stained glass.
“Some windows were open, and you could hear birds. It was like something out of a movie,” Ryan remembers. “It paused everything for a second.”
The setting was Hollywood-perfect: a table for two at XIX, the restaurant atop the Bellevue Hotel. A soft fog outside the window. An engagement ring in Angelo’s pocket, and a poem he’d written for María in his head.
But when he reached for the ring, the box got stuck. He began to sweat. “I kind of had an out-of-body experience,” he recalls. “I got the box out of my pocket and fumbled it. All of the perfect words I had to say went out of the window. I said, ‘Uh…’ And her reaction was perfect. She just looked at me, looked at the ring and said yes.”
Hilary’s master’s thesis was due on Monday. But on Saturday, Evan begged her to come to Reading Terminal Market. “I need you to help me find stuff,” he said.
She wept from anxiety on the way downtown. She felt baffled as Evan led her to the honey stand in the center of the bustling market and remained clueless even when two friends showed up, singing a song by the Old 97s.
She wasn’t trying to make a good impression.
Within hours of giving birth to her daughter, Rachel Ridgeway, along with her husband, was back in the comforts of her home, where her older son waited to meet his new baby sister. His parents were away so little that day, “he didn’t even realize we were gone,” recalls Ridgeway. Already bonded from the birth center, the family settled into life with their new bundle of joy.
Pregnancy was not the dreamy nine months that Sherell Robinson had hoped for. Shortly after finding out she was expecting last October, the South Philadelphia woman quit her teaching job because of an underlying heart condition and, by the end of the year, she was getting divorced.
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, adding a plethora of new worries about a novel virus with unknown effects on pregnancy.
The coronavirus pandemic has reshaped everyone’s lives. For pregnant women and new mothers, this time has been particularly stressful: There are the unknowns of how covid-19 might affect pregnant women and babies; decreased in-person appointments; and changed birth plans.
Alanna Butler, 38, was six months pregnant in early March, when Philadelphia reported its first covid-19 case. We asked Butler to keep a 30-day diary starting in May, about a month before her due date, which was June 19.
From prenatal care to menopause, Lifecycle WomanCare finds new ways to support clients during coronavirus.
So much has changed or been put on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis, but as we are taking care of our families in new ways, it is so important to remember to take care of ourselves. While the world has been thrown into upheaval, our physical and mental well-being can often be thrown, as well. As parents we often find it hard to prioritize our own needs, but in times like these with so many changes, demands, and difficult questions, it is more critical than ever.
COVID-19 has changed nearly every aspect of our lives, including the process of bringing new ones into the world.
Cheryl Yondorf, a physician in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, said hospitals are working with two goals in mind as they provide maternity care during the pandemic.
“What do you do?” It’s the question you might get asked when you meet someone for the first time. We all have our go-to answer: I’m a lawyer, I work for a start-up, I teach preschool — but we actually want to know the details: When do you get in? How do you spend your day? Tell us, really: What do you do?
Meet Autumn Nelson. She’s a certified nurse midwife from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who has been practicing midwifery for seven years. For the last five years, she attends births at a birth center, Lifecycle WomanCare, and also at various hospitals in the greater Philadelphia area.
During Passover, Julie Cristol often finds herself the butt of jokes about Shifra and Puah, the midwives who helped save Hebrew babies in the Exodus story.
But the jokes make her proud.
Cristol is a certified nurse-midwife who works as the clinical director of Lifecycle WomanCare in Bryn Mawr, a center that has provided birth care since 1978. Over the past 40 years, the center has expanded to include gynecological care as well.
As World Breastfeeding Week continues through Tuesday, nearly 30 breastfeeding moms from the Philadelphia area met at the Franklin Square Park to publicly feed their babies.
The Maternity Care Coalition hosted what it dubbed the “Big Latch” event Friday.
“Feel free to breastfeed,” Michelle Sutton of MCC’s Northeast MOMobile told the moms. “Come on and lift up those shirts. Get these babies. On your mark, get set, go!”
As World Breastfeeding Week begins Wednesday, a local initiative to make breast milk available to more babies is getting ready to launch.
Next Tuesday, the Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank will open three milk depots in the Philadelphia area – at Lifecycle WomanCare in Bryn Mawr, and the Abington and Wayne locations of the Breastfeeding Resource Center. A brief ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Abington center (1355 Old York Road) will welcome local mothers and their babies to learn more about donating their breast milk for babies in need across Philadelphia and beyond.
Madeleine James McNabb came into the world the day after Christmas 2016, bringing her parents 4 pounds, 12 ounces of joy – and thousands of dollars in a medical bill they are still paying off.
The Bryn Mawr family’s insurance plan covered much of Madeleine and 31-year-old Taryn McNabb’s costs, but not the $2,000 out-of-pocket responsibility the young family is meeting in $175 monthly installments.
Policymakers cannot create effective policy if they are not hearing from a wide range of practitioners and consumers alike. To that end, Lifecycle WomanCare (LWC), a nonprofit health organization in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania is sponsoring a State of Women’s Health Symposium on April 25th. Women’s health advocate, editor, and consultant Lesley S. Curtis interviewed Kathy Boockvar, recent former Executive Director of LWC and Senior Advisor to the Pennsylvania Governor on Election Modernization, about this unique event that brings practitioners and policymakers together.
“Everything at Lifecycle WomanCare goes back to its philosophy and commitment to the midwifery model of care, which is based on the knowledge that strengthening the relationships between individuals and their providers is an essential piece of delivering exceptional health outcomes. Experience has shown us that women benefit most in every stage of their lives—from adolescence to menopause and beyond—when they are supported and invited to play an active role in making decisions about their care.”
October 28, 2015
In lieu of flowers, the bridesmaids bore rocks.
Each woman carried a nugget of Block Island, then they walked to an open field and set the rocks down in a circle. It was June 2013, and the longest day of the year. Jenny and Burton stepped into the center of the ring, where they spoke vows extemporaneously – whatever brimmed in their hearts at that moment.
This wedding, in a place Burton had visited as a child and where he’d nearly proposed to Jenny after seven months of courtship, was a chance to let family and friends see who they were as a couple – not only during the ceremony, but at brunch the next day, at the beach, and at a bonfire where a friend strummed guitar.
September 3, 2015
Bryn Mawr Hospital and Lifecycle WomanCare have renewed their partnership after a four-year separation.
Lifecycle WomanCare, formerly known as The Birth Center, was founded in 1978 as the first licensed independent birth center in Pennsylvania. The Bryn Mawr, Pa., nonprofit is also one of the oldest continually operating birth centers in the country.
Under the collaboration, Lifecycle WomanCare will transfer patients to Bryn Mawr Hospital should a mother or newborn be in need of a wider scope of medical options during antepartum, intra-partum, or postpartum care.
June 17, 2015
The Birth Center in Bryn Mawr had a great coming-out party for their new brand: “LifeCycle WomanCare.” The Union League was the venue that executive director Kathryn Boockvar, J.D., had chosen for their major conference, “The State of Women’s Health.” The breakfast event attracted hundreds of providers of women’s care, and an impressive list of sponsors, including accounting firms like Shechtman Marks Devor PC, the Maternity Care Coalition, and a long list of professional, business and medical groups, with Bryn Mawr Hospital as the lead sponsor.
June 16, 2015
A group of clinical experts and policy leaders gathered at a forum in Center City to address critical health issues facing women.
More than 200 attendees turned out for the State of Women’s Health forum this month at the Union League.
The forum hosted by The Birth Center featured a keynote address by Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Rachel L. Levine who honed in on two critical health issues — the rise of maternal mortality in Philadelphia and the opioid addiction crisis in Pennsylvania.
“The single biggest health crisis right now in Pennsylvania — as it is in the United States — is opioid addiction and the risk of overdose,” Levine stated.
She cited the recently released Pennsylvania coroner’s report which indicated opioid overdoses claims the lives of seven Pennsylvania residents a day. Levine said much of this can be attributed to the over prescribing of opioids by physicians who are trying to help people cope with pain. This often leads to opioid addiction, which can morph into heroin use.
June 12, 2015
Maternal mortality rates in Philadelphia are more than 50 percent above the national average, according to a report issued by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
The analysis conducted by the Philadelphia Maternal Mortality Review [MMR] team, a panel formed in 2010 by the city medical examiner’s officer, found in a three-year period between 2010 and 2012 — when about 69,000 live births occurred in the city — 55 women died within one year of the end of their pregnancy.
“Women in Philadelphia are arriving at pregnancy sicker and with more chronic health conditions like obesity, diabetes and hypertension,” said JoAnne Fischer, executive director of the Maternity Care Coalition, a Philadelphia nonprofit focused on improving maternal and child health.
Dell Poncet, Managing Editor – Philadelphia Business Journal
May 29, 2015
First off, why the new name from The Birth Center to Lifecycle WomanCare? In short, we wanted to make it easier for women of all ages and backgrounds to access the wonderful health benefits of our model of care, from adolescence through menopause, and we believe a more inclusive name — Lifecycle WomanCare — will help advance this goal. We believe Lifecycle WomanCare communicates far more clearly what we have always provided throughout our 36-year history — that we welcome all those seeking the highest quality of health care, regardless of income, regardless of age or background or stage of life, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.
December 5, 2014
Watch Bonnie’s interview with Kathy Boockvar, Executive Director of The Birth Center, in anticipation of the birth of the 10,000 baby born at the center since its founding 36 years ago.
Covered in sweat with her legs in the air, Regina Enockson grunts, yells, then pushes, pushes and pushes some more. “There was a burst of pain, followed by what felt like a pile of rope falling out of me,” says Enockson. “My husband looked down and said, ‘It’s Grant. It’s a boy.’”
Just another post-midnight delivery at the Birth Center in Bryn Mawr.
With its private apartments, en-suite Jacuzzis and lush garden, it’s the Ritz-Carlton of its ilk. And there are midwives, of course, who assist in all-natural labor and delivery. That’s right: no epidural or pharmaceutical pain relief of any kind.
There are five licensed birth centers in the state, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Each has home-like facilities where family-centered care is provided by midwives.
Most hospitals in the Main Line area have birthing suites, but these differ from centers in the level of medical equipment used, including anesthesia. Of course, any female patient can always decline an epidural and give birth naturally at a local hospital, as well…
Chantel Hull, 35, a lawyer from Ambler, stopped in for an appointment at the Birth Center in Bryn Mawr in early October, three weeks shy of her due date. This was her third child.
“So how’s the baby doing?” asked Ruth Wilf, her midwife.
“Very good,” Hull said. “He’s very active.”
“Good,” Wilf said. “The baby should always continue to be himself.”
Hull smiled agreeably.
“No, seriously,” Wilf insisted. “It’s important the baby keeps his usual patterns.
“What’s your body telling you?” Wilf continued.
“He’s dropped. I can barely walk. Swelling has increased in my hands and feet. . . . I don’t know if I can last much longer. I’m not getting much sleep.”
A Doylestown attorney serving as chief counsel for the Pennsylvania auditor general soon will leave her post to become executive director of The Birth Center in Bryn Mawr.
Kathryn Boockvar, a former candidate for political office, is set to start her job with the oldest continually operational birth center in the nation on Feb. 10…