Nick and Carissa Coniglio both come from large, extended families.
So, whenever there’s cause for celebration — birthdays, anniversaries, etc. — many relatives gather to rejoice.
Thankfully for the Coniglios, who have three sons ages 5, 4 and 18 months — as well as for expectant parents throughout Palm Beach County — today’s birthing suites have room for a party.
They look more like hotel rooms than hospital rooms.
The business of baby-birthing has become so important that, in December, JFK Medical Center will make a much-anticipated delivery of its own: the grand opening of The Birthplace at JFK Medical Center — a state-of-the-art obstetrics unit whose spacious, private, suites will provide cozy home furnishings and plenty of upscale features.
The Coniglios elected to have all of their children delivered at The Birthplace Suites at St. Mary’s Medical Center.
“It was our sanctuary,” explains Nick. “We stayed in the double suite so, when Carissa needed to rest afterward, I could take our baby to a separate area, watch the big flat-screen TV and hold him without disturbing her.”
When Nick needed his own shuteye, he slept on the comfy pullout bed.
Carissa recalls, “I was pampered the whole time. The food was absolutely delicious and even the little things — like the linens, towels and toiletries — were of the highest quality. All three times, we were treated like VIPs.”
Those experiences are ones the Coniglios have in common with the high-profile likes of Celine Dion, Michael Jordan and, says St. Mary’s CEO Joey Bulfin, “many other celebrities who’ve had their children at our Birthplace Suites.”
With more than 14,400 babies born in Palm Beach County last year, local hospitals have prioritized catering to all new parents — most of whom, like the Coniglios, expect a more luxurious birthing experience than the ones their parents and grandparents had.
Here are some of the notable upgrades that are now de rigueur — whether you’re a world-recognized figure or not:
SPACE TO SPREAD OUT
Of course, everyone wants to see the new bundle of joy and congratulate the proud parents — but where to put them all?
In recent years, the square footage in birthing suites has been expanded to accommodate both visitors and spouses.
In August, Tempera Graham delivered her fourth child (son Jaxon) — but her first at Jupiter Medical Center’s newly expanded and refurbished De George Children’s and Women’s unit.
Graham was thrilled with how much room everyone had: “My mother, husband and whole family were in there but it didn’t feel claustrophobic at all. And, when my husband needed to sleep, there was this great futon-like bed that folded out.”
Mark Nosacka, CEO of Good Samaritan Medical Center, notes that the “resort-like environment” that many hospitals have created corresponds to his own facility’s philosophy that “having a baby is not a disease. It’s a joyous occasion for everyone — which is why, after every baby is born at Good Sam, we play Brahms’ Lullaby throughout the building.”
Steak. Lobster. You name it, Mom can order it.
Today’s birthing centers provide gourmet cuisine that new moms can order 24/7 from a menu available only to her.
“It’s just like room service — except the cuisine is restaurant-quality,” says Carissa Coniglio, who also noted that the cutlery, china and napkins were fit for fine dining.
Graham also had rave reviews for Jupiter Medical Center’s fare: “I eat a lot of Mexican food, and I swear: The quesadilla I had there after Jaxon was born was the best quesadilla I’ve ever eaten!”
Mom- and Dad-to-be are made to feel as if they’re checking into a spa retreat — not being admitted to a hospital.
For instance, at the Benefactors Maternity Suite at Bethesda Hospital East, new mothers are outfitted in plush robes and slippers.
Those who check into Jupiter Medical Center can receive prenatal and postnatal massages, as well as beauty salon services.
When JFK Medical Center’s birthing center opens, it will offer professional in-room baby photo sessions with the new parents and their extended family.
And, of course, no respectable birthing suite would be without the following:
- guest bed for Dad
- flat-screen TV
- spa-like bathroom and shower
- Internet/Wi-Fi access
CUTTING-EDGE CONCIERGE CARE
Plush birthing accommodations aside, what matters most to new parents is the well-being of their baby. So, when hospitals refurbish their suites, they also upgrade the unit’s medical facilities.
This means everything from state-of-the art neonatal intensive-care units to remote baby monitoring (so baby can stay in suite with parents). Boca Raton Regional Hospital even has a donor milk program.
Dr. Stephen Livingston, chief of Jupiter Medical Center’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, helped oversee the birthing-unit expansion. In addition to the hospital’s increased medical capabilities, Livingston believes that such enhancements have an added benefit — one that starts long before a pregnant woman’s water breaks: “When expectant parents tour a facility like ours, their minds are set at ease. It’s one less thing for them to worry about. In that sense, we’re treating Mom and baby before they’ve even arrived.”