From plan to improvisation

Staff steps up when former employee's birth plan takes unexpected turn

For many soon-to-be mothers, a birth plan is a source of comfort — a way to plan for one of the biggest moments of their lives.

“Birth is a memorable, life-changing experience for mothers,” said Janice A. MacKenzie, M.S.N., RNC-OB, C/EFM, UF Health Shands Labor and Delivery nurse manager. “We aim to create a personalized, special experience for mothers.”


Erica Smith with son, Kaden, and husband, Cody.

MacKenzie explained that birth plan development begins when a mother discovers she is pregnant and it serves to help staff provide quality care specifically tailored to her wants and needs.

When Erica Smith, a former UF Health Shands Hospital Guest Services specialist, recently gave birth here to her son, Kaden, her family’s birth plan took an unexpected turn, but our staff was here to help her.

Early on during Smith’s pregnancy, she and her husband, Cody, created a plan. The Smiths were set on a natural birth from the beginning, but complications arose.

Staff members did their best to stick as closely to the Smiths’ plan as they could, but each step closer to delivery brought the need to improvise. Even though many changes to the birth plan had to be made, the team tailored everything they did to Smith’s wishes.

“I was afraid of being pressured into doing something I didn’t want to,” she said. “But everyone was great at listening and explaining procedures.”

Smith’s mother, Maureen “Mo” LaTour, R.N., M.S.N., CNL-B, UF Health Shands Nursing and Patient Services education specialist, was pleased with how the staff cared for her daughter, particularly how they kept her informed each step of the way.

“Our team was very focused on the family and their needs,” LaTour said, “I’m very satisfied with the care they provided.”

Erica Smith called her nurse’s care and support “phenomenal,” and was impressed with her knowledge.

“A nurse is a mother’s lifeline,” MacKenzie said. “As a mother’s labor evolves, their nurse is their advocate for help, communication and education. Speaking for all our nurses, their whole purpose is to give every mother a special moment for birth.”

On April 21, after 29 hours of labor, four hours of active labor and a Cesarean delivery, a healthy Kaden Smith was born.

“I knew I was going to be taken care of,” Erica Smith said. “UF Health has always had a great reputation, and the staff really lived up to it.”