When Baby Comes Early

Members of the NICU care team. Photo was taken in July 2019.


Houston Methodist Childbirth Center at Sugar Land Offers Outstanding Care for High-Risk Pregnancies and Premature Babies

Pregnancy is supposed to be a wonderful time for moms-to-be. Planning for your baby’s arrival – and dreaming of the day your little bundle of joy is born – are the best parts of the experience.

But what happens if medical challenges interfere? Sometimes, pregnancy can cause serious issues that threaten the health of both mom and baby, including hypertension (high blood pressure) and gestational diabetes. In some cases, labor must be induced early to protect mom – even if baby isn’t quite ready for life outside of the womb.

Fortunately for moms-to-be in Fort Bend County and surrounding areas, Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is uniquely positioned to safely provide the best possible care for any birth, including those considered high risk.

The hospital’s Childbirth Center and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) offer unparalleled round-the-clock care – close to home. With experienced, caring nurses and a wide range of specialists, including obstetricians, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, anesthesiologists, neonatologists and pediatricians, the Houston Methodist Childbirth Center at Sugar Land gives moms-to-be the peace of mind and confidence they need.

The Importance of a NICU

In years past, women with early deliveries would have their newborn transferred to the Texas Medical Center while they recovered at Houston Methodist Sugar Land, primarily due to concerns for the baby. Now Houston Methodist Sugar Land’s NICU is capable of providing complex, round-the-clock care for infants born at less than 32 weeks gestational.

“Houston Methodist Sugar Land’s NICU is on the journey to become a Level III NICU, which will be a tremendous benefit for moms-to-be in Fort Bend, but especially critical for those with high-risk pregnancies,” said board-certified neonatologist Shaeequa Dasnadi, M.D., medical director of the Houston Methodist Sugar Land NICU. “Many times, those risks lead to labor being induced early to protect mom’s health, and that means the baby is premature. Being close to home removes a great deal of the stress, time and travel involved for parents, especially if the baby remains in the NICU for several weeks.”

A First Time Mom’s Experience

The Diaz family.
Photo courtesy of SEEM photography.

Like most first-time moms, Houston Methodist Sugar Land employee Taylor Diaz didn’t expect to have any issues with her pregnancy. However, after a few months, her blood pressure began rising enough to cause concern that she came to the Obstetric Emergency Department, but she felt reassured because there were board-certified OBs. And then, as her due date grew closer, it became a critical health issue.

High blood pressure is a common condition during pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in every 12 pregnant women will experience serious hypertension.  It is one of the leading causes of preterm delivery.

When Diaz was 35 weeks pregnant, her blood pressure was high enough for her to be admitted to Houston Methodist Sugar Land. Medication helped get her blood pressure under control so she could go home, but it spiked again the next day. At that point, her doctor, Lauren Swords, M..D., OB-GYN at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, told her that she would need to be induced as soon as possible – for her safety as well as her baby’s.

“I was really upset when I found out that I needed to be induced,” recalled Diaz. “I had hoped to get to at least 37 weeks. I just wasn’t mentally ready to deliver so soon.”

Because she didn’t realize she would be induced that day, her husband David had not accompanied her to the doctor. She was admitted to the hospital before he could arrive, and she entered the Childbirth Center alone. But that didn’t last long.

“The nurses just embraced me from the first minute and did everything they could to help me feel better,” Diaz said. “They were absolutely amazing. I shed a lot of tears because I was so worried, but they were right by my side the whole time, comforting me.”

Complicated by COVID-19

Diaz was induced on Thursday, April 9th at 6 pm, and after nearly 24 hours of labor, baby Valor was born on April 10th at 4:09 pm. Even though she was born about five weeks early, Valor was healthy enough to go home as soon as Diaz’ hypertension was under control.

And while Diaz was happy that she and Valor were safe, her experience wasn’t exactly what she expected due to safety precautions put in place to protect patients from COVID-19.

“It was difficult because I had always thought my mom would be with me when I gave birth, but it just wasn’t possible due to the limit of one visitor,” she said. “And after Valor was born, David and I still couldn’t have visitors to our room. The nurses said that moms were getting more rest without visitors popping in, and they were better able to bond because their babies weren’t being passed around for everyone to hold. They helped me to see things from a different perspective.”

Plus, Diaz said, staff members were extremely diligent in following safety protocols. “I always felt safe,” she said. “Everyone was always wearing the proper protective equipment.”

On Easter Sunday, Diaz and Valor were discharged. But at her first visit to the pediatrician two days later, Valor was diagnosed with jaundice. It was back to the hospital – this time, for Valor to be admitted to the NICU.

“Having a quality NICU so close to home is a real blessing,” said Lauren Swords, M.D., OB-GYN at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “When your newborn is in the hospital, you are under so much stress. I can’t imagine having to drive to the Texas Medical Center every day to see your baby.”

Dr. Shaeequa Dasnadi, NICU Medical Director.

Happy and Healthy

Fortunately, Valor’s stay in the NICU was a short one. Today – despite the rocky beginning to her life – she is healthy, happy and growing quickly.

“I am so grateful to everyone in our Childbirth Center and NICU for the care we received and the compassion we were shown during such a challenging time,” said Diaz. “I saw first-hand how supportive nurses and physicians make the difference, and it makes me proud to say I’m an employee.”

Learn More

The Childbirth Center at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital offers both in-person and online childbirth education classes, along with virtual and in-person tours, to help you feel more comfortable with your experience. To learn more or to schedule a class, call
. To view the virtual tour, visit houstonmethodist.org/childbirth-sl.