You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

University of Michigan's new hospital improves birthing experience for mothers

By Kellie Woodhouse


Dr. Margaret Punch moves equipment in a caesarean section operating room at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Van Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.

Angela J. Cesere |

Related story: A look inside the University of Michigan's new Mott Children's and Women's Hospital for the first time

Photo gallery: Images from the media tour of the new C.S. Mott Children's Hospital

When doctors are performing a tricky cesarean section at the University of Michigan Health System’s new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Van Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, they’ll be able to carefully monitor the health of the fetus on a 42-inch flat screen TV in the operating room.

“Everybody can see what’s going on,” said physician Margaret Punch, associate director of ambulatory care services at the hospital.

The change is just one of dozens that will improve the birthing process at U-M, officials said Monday during a tour of the newly built $754 million, 1.1 million-square-foot facility, which is set to open Dec. 4.

The new birthing facility has four fully functional and state-of-the-art operating rooms, allowing doctors to perform complicated procedures within the ninth-floor women’s hospital.

“With the old unit, we sometimes had to send patients with early (complications) to the adult emergency room,” Punch explained.


An infant bed inside a room in the 9th floor Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital birth center.

Angela J. Cesere |

Perhaps the biggest change, officials say, is a 60 percent increase in space. The new women’s hospital will have 50 private rooms.

In the old facility, the hospital has 31 beds on the fourth floor, but high demand often forces women had to use overflow beds in the pediatric cancer unit on the seventh floor.

“We were so space constrained,” Punch explained. “If we were busy, they’d have to share rooms. That will never happen again.”

Each patient room is approximately 450 square feet and has a window with views of the Ann Arbor skyline or the Nichols Arboretum. The rooms have a private bathroom, recliner, couch and 42-inch flat screen TV. There are separate computers for nurse, physician and family use.

The operating rooms are, according to Punch, about 20 percent larger than previous operating rooms.

“These are… significantly larger,” Punch said of the patient rooms. “Much more comfortable than what we had at our old facility.”

The average stay at a birthing room is between 24 and 36 hours. If a cesarean section is needed, that stay is extended to between 48 and 72 hours, Punch said.

Mott has grown significantly since opening in 1969, making the expansion essential, hospital manager Pat Warner said. During its first year, Mott treated a total of 3,500 children— including births.

Last year, more than 3,800 babies were born at the hospital. About 20,000 children were admitted for care.

That rise is expected to continue in the new facility.

“We’re planning on a 2 to 3 percent growth next year,” Warner said.


A birthing tub at the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Van Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.

In turn, the midwifery program at Mott is expanding to accommodate a growing natural birth trend.

“We have a strong midwifery population,” said Loree Collett, associate hospital administrator, “and they have a strong birthing tub presence.”

At the new facility, eight rooms have birthing tubs, compared to three tubs at the old unit. The tubs have a triangular shape, instead of the conventional rectangular shape, to increase flexibility and comfort, Punch said.

Dawn Bussey, an Ann Arbor-based birthing assistant who has helped facilitate several births at Mott, said the birthing tubs are often used by mothers in labor as a “coping mechanism.”

At the old facility, birthing tubs were highly requested and difficult to come by, Bussey said.

“I had clients who were very disappointed because they didn’t get a tub,” she said. “Hydrotherapy is a huge, huge desire right now for women who are going into labor.”

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is located a floor below the women’s hospital. That unit has 46 private rooms that are 200 square feet apiece.

The close proximity of the NICU and birthing units allows families to stay close together if both the mother and child need treatment.

“It’s unique for a women’s hospital to be in a children’s hospital,” Collett said. “Keeping the two together is really effective.”

Although Mott took five years to build, hospital officials are planning to move patients to the new facility in just 12 hours on Dec. 4.

Mothers in labor will be moved to the new hospital on a case-by-case basis.

“We’ll be making personalized decisions,” said Punch. Those decisions will be based on stage and duration of labor.

A woman admitted after 7 a.m. on Dec. 4 will give birth in the new facility, where they can visit a refurbished Big Bird on the way out.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 2:11 p.m.

"University of Michigan's new hospital improves birthing experience for mothers" Can they make it not hurt?

Max Peters

Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 12:33 p.m.

"they'll be able to carefully monitor the health of the fetus on a 42-inch flat screen TV in the operating room" If only they showed the health of a fetus on 42-inch TV for every fetal "procedure"... Way to de-humanize what the mass of tissue has grown into - a child.


Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

This is where my heart is at. To help the ill children, and give them hope. This hospital has been a long time needed, and I believe when it comes to UofM medical, they do care, and I have been there with my kids many, many times. I am grateful to them and I ask that God bless the people who help God with his handy work, and all the children who need the care our new hospital provides. Thank you UofM.

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

bathroom looks like it belongs in 1 of 2 places. either: five guys burgers & fries or jimmy john's.


Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 1:45 p.m.

It is not a regular "bathroom" - it has a birthing tub in it. I don't believe it is meant to look like the bathroom in your home, nor the bathrooms in patient rooms. We have a new, modern, up-to-date, beautiful hospital and you have to make a comment like this?


Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 7:53 p.m.

Ha ha!! Thank you for the laugh...I needed it!