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First-time mom says Inspira birth experience “could not have been better”

Feb 13, 2024

Arielle Johnson, 31, of Pennsville, knew that she had done all she could during her pregnancy to ensure her well-being and the health of her first child. She was receiving regular prenatal care from her Inspira obstetrician/gynecologist, Neely Elisha, D.O., and was taking care of herself. All was going smoothly until about 2 weeks before her due date, when she started to have some cramping.

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“I wasn’t sure if I was feeling Braxton-Hicks contractions or just some other late pregnancy pain,” Arielle said. “I had seen Dr. Elisha the day before and she told me that my baby could arrive any time. So I called her. She listened and told me to go to the emergency room.”

Braxton-Hicks contractions, sometimes called “false labor pains,” are contractions of the uterus sometimes felt in the second or third trimester. They are the body’s way of preparing for true labor.

Arielle was assessed at the Inspira Vineland emergency department.

Dr. Elisha admitted her. “My blood pressure was a bit high and Dr. Elisha was concerned about preeclampsia. She wanted me to be monitored,” said Arielle, who is an assistant case worker for the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, and currently studying to become a licensed mental health counselor.

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Preeclampsia is defined as high blood pressure during pregnancy and is considered a serious health complication. According to the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, African American women in the United States have a 60 percent higher chance of developing preeclampsia.

“It made me even more glad that we chose Dr. Elisha, because Vineland is almost 40 minutes from our home,” Arielle said. “I felt so much safer knowing that she was going to be watching me.”

Arielle said that when she became nervous at the hospital, the nursing staff helped her feel confident that she was in the right place.

“My boyfriend, Ricky, was at work when they started running tests. He wanted to be there with me. The team at Inspira helped us understand that the baby wasn’t coming immediately and that he could finish his day and pick up some things we’d need at the hospital. They made me feel like I wasn’t alone.”

Ricky said, “Everyone was great. They helped me understand how I could help. When I got to the hospital, everyone introduced themselves. They showed me a pull-out couch, so I could stay with Arielle. It was pretty great to feel that kind of support.”

Arielle said that Labor and Delivery nurse, Jessi Baldosaro, R.N., was especially helpful.

“I kept thinking, ‘She’s looks so young!’ but I admired her competence and intelligence. She explained everything and answered my questions, no matter how many times I asked! She showed me how to get in the right position when I was uncomfortable. She made the experience easier for me even though I was a bit scared. All the nurses were like that. No one acted like I was asking too much. They were there when I needed help and they kept checking on me to make sure I was OK.”

Early the next morning, Arielle went into labor. She was relieved when Dr. Elisha walked into her room.

“I can’t say enough good things about her,” Arielle said. “She is just so chill, but she’s also so professional. She gives you all the information you need in a way that you can understand.”

“Everything was just on point,” Ricky said. “We could not have had a better team. We met eight or ten people that night. They not only did their jobs well, but there was more humanity in the experience than I expected.”

Arielle said that she felt part of a team during the delivery.

“I was feeling some anxiety. And labor contractions are no joke! But everyone kept reassuring me that I was doing great.”

Arielle also wanted to recognize neonatologist Charrell Bird, M.D. “Dr. Bird was great. She did a lot of work during my stay in Vineland. She helped educate us about the prevalence of preeclampsia in African American women. I really admire her.”

Arielle’s and Ricky’s son, Nyx, was born on May 20 and for a few days was cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The couple said that experience was also handled with compassion.

“One of the nurses talked directly to Arielle over FaceTime when I went to the NICU, so she could see Nyx and hear what was going on,” Ricky said. “That meant a lot to us.”

When there was a chance that Arielle could be discharged before Nyx was ready to go home, a social worker from Inspira helped arrange for Arielle to stay in a room supported by the Ronald McDonald House foundation, if necessary. Luckily, Nyx was able to leave with Arielle and Ricky and is thriving at home.

“He’s growing so fast. It makes me emotional to see the changes in him almost every day,” Arielle said. “My experience started well with Dr. Elisha, and then it got even better as we met the team. I think it speaks well of Inspira and the kind of people it hires,” she said.

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Topics: Maternity