The Roundup -

By Tie Shank 

Oil Isn't the Only Thing Booming in the Bakken Region


Labor & Delivery room at Mercy Medical Center in Williston, ND.

Mercy Medical Center (MMC) has seen a steady increase in the number of babies being born over the past few years: In 2012, 536 babies were delivered. Compare this to the 746 babies delivered in 2013 and you'll see the increase of 210 babies in only a year. 2014 looks to be another record breaking year as the MMC OB department is expecting at least 120 babies coming due over the next couple of months from Great Plains Women's Health Center alone, per their Business Manager, Leland Tong.

Five years ago, MMC would staff only 1 labor & delivery nurse per shift, 1 post-partum nurse per shift and 1 nursery nurse per shift. They've increased this to 3 labor & delivery nurses, 1 post-partum nurse, 1 tech and 1 nursery nurse per shift. The hospital currently utilizes traveling nurses and would like to add more experienced labor & delivery nurses to their staff.

The Obstetrics unit at MMC is a 10 bed unit that offers 24 hour analgesia, Wi-Fi (so you can bring your laptops), Jacuzzis in each of the labor & delivery rooms and a sleeping area for a family member.

Registered Nurse Walta Novak has worked in the OB department at MMC for several years and has seen many changes. One of the constants she's seen is the number of women breastfeeding. "I've been on the OB for 27 years and we've had a very good history of breastfeeding moms," states Novak. "We educate women on how to breastfeed. We also give them the names and contact information of two registered lactation consultants during their stay with us."

Novak states, "We encourage rooming in. It helps parents set up a family bonding time and allows the mother to watch for breastfeeding cues. However, in the event the mother needs a break: a shower, to go for a walk or to take an uninterrupted nap, we have a nursery for those times. We put baby bands on the newborn, the mother and the significant other or the person the mother designates and those two are the only ones allowed to sign the baby out of the nursery."

Walta Novak, has been an RN in the OB department for over 27 years.

The OB staff will ask two questions to every new mom during registration: 1) How do you plan to feed your baby and 2) Who have you chosen to be your baby's doctor? "It's important to choose a doctor for your newborn prior to delivery," advises Novak. "Pediatricians can be found at Craven Hagen Clinic and Mercy Pediatric Clinic."

Novak also strongly encourages all new moms to purchase the book, What to Expect The First Year. You can usually pick it up at bookstores, Walmart or on Amazon for under $10. She also encourages expecting parents to log in to the Mercy Medical Center website and register for educational classes. MMC sponsors classes in Childbirth, Breastfeeding, Car Seat Safety, Bringing Baby Home and Baby Basics. Most classes are free of charge or there is a very minimal charge and you can register on-line at


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