Local Birthing Location Options: St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka, IN

Here is a quick overview of a local birthing location: St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka, Indiana. You can find pictures of the facility here and information about the Mother-Baby Unit (for recovery) here.

This information comes from my personal correspondence with representatives of the hospital and was last updated in June 2021.

Photo courtesy of Saint Joseph Health System

Quick Overview

  • Number of births per year: 1,477 (2020)
  • The most recent cesarean rate: 28%
  • Baby-Friendly designation: yes.
  • Offers childbirth education: all three representatives I spoke to said that usually classes are offered, but there are currently no listings on the website.
  • Hydrotherapy available: yes, there are showers in all rooms, and one room has a tub for laboring. If you are interested in using the tub for labor, talk to your provider, as you may need specific screenings before being allowed to use the tub. Also, there may be extra precautions if your water has broken.
  • Waterbirth available: no. The tub that is available for hydrotherapy may only be used for labor.   

Support People

  • Number of support people permitted: (keep in mind that given covid-19, this number is constantly in flux) currently, two support people are permitted in addition to a certified doula. No children are currently allowed in the Mother-Baby Unit. Before covid, there was no limit on visitors to labor & delivery (though there was a limit of two visitors in the labor or delivery room at any given time; other visitors could wait outside). During flu season, the Mother-Baby Unit has usually limited visitors.
  • Doula policy or restrictions: St. Joe currently admits certified doulas; which certifications count seems to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • If the person giving birth tests positive for covid, they are allowed to have only one support person (including a doula).

Routine Protocols

  • Routine protocol for IV: A saline-lock is required until delivery. 
  • Routine protocol for fetal monitoring: Every patient is continuously monitored for 30 minutes when they first arrive. After that, the routine for a low-risk pregnancy with no medications is for fetal monitoring to be intermittent. If the patient is on pitocin, has an epidural, or is high risk, fetal monitoring is routinely continuous.
  • Protocol for ambulation during labor: ambulation is encouraged unless the patient has an epidural (in which case, a peanut ball is encouraged as an alternative).
  • Protocol for eating and drinking during labor: food is recommended through the inducation process up to the introduction of pitocin (regular diet, light foods, small meals). Once a patient enters active labor, the hospital offers clear liquids only.
  • Protocol for VBAC: this varies by doctor, but the the hospital requires that whenever a patient who is trying for a VBAC is in active labor, their doctor must be in the hospital. (There is a laborist who will fill this role if the patient is not yet in active labor.) The rest is up to the particular provider the patient is seeing. 

Additional Information:

  • Most recent episiotomy rate: the hospital did not have numbers for this for me.
  • Cesarean delivery: for c-sections, it is usually up to doctors whether support people are allowed in the OR, but in emergency c-sections when the patient is under general anesthesia, no support people are allowed. Skin-to-skin in the OR is encouraged, and there are clear drapes available (a local news station covered this addition and features some cool pictures).
  • NICU: Mishawaka Medical Center has a Level III NICU; you can learn more about their services here.

Other Important Notes

  • The Mishawaka Family Birthplace offers a mother’s support group and lactation consultants; you can learn more by calling 574-335-4127.
  • The hospital works with Love You Baby Photography to offer portrait packages of newborns and their families.

To learn more about the offerings at St. Joe, please contact the Mishawaka Family Birthplace at 574-335-4127.

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