When Blake and Ruthie Lichterman had to change their birth plan late in Ruthie’s pregnancy, they were understandably nervous.

They would have only days to get to know their physician and the hospital where they’d experience one of the biggest moments of their lives.

Fortunately, they say Regional One Health and Dr. Ashekia Pinckney put their minds at ease by providing exceptional medical care and a warm, encouraging environment.

The birth of your first baby should be special, and for Blake and Ruthie Lichterman, that meant planning a natural delivery at their home. But just a week from their due date, their baby hadn’t flipped from the breech position, making a home birth impossible.

In mere days, they would have to trust a new doctor, hospital and nursing staff with one of most important moments of their lives.

It left them with all the expected emotions: disappointment, stress, anxiety. What they never could have anticipated, however, is that a brand-new team could ease their minds and give them an experience they’ll cherish forever.

“Even though we hadn’t planned to give birth in a hospital, we had an excellent experience, and we really appreciate everyone at Regional One Health for making that happen,” Blake said. “Every family deserves to be fully comfortable during this time, and we absolutely were.”

After Ruthie’s providers determined she needed to give birth via C-section, they referred her to Ashekia Pinckney, MD, an OB/GYN at Regional One Health.

Ashekia Pinckney, MD, takes a patient-focused approach to put new parents at ease. “I talk with them and get to know them,” she said. “I find out their goals for their elivery so I can provide patient-centered care.”

At 39 weeks pregnant, there was no time for the usual preparations – spending time with the physician who would deliver their baby, touring the hospital, etc. Furthermore, due to COVID-19 rules, Ruthie would have to meet her new doctor alone.

“She was extremely nervous, especially since we couldn’t go in together,” Blake remembers. “But Dr. Pinckney is one of the kindest, most genuine people I’ve met in the medical profession. As soon as Ruthie locked eyes with her, she felt at ease. And as soon as I talked to her, I felt the same way. She was so confident and composed, and her bedside etiquette is world-class.”

For Dr. Pinckney, making patients comfortable is part of her plan of care.

Whether she’s meeting a mom-to-be in the first trimester or last week of pregnancy, she focuses on building relationships and giving reassurance. She wants her patients to have a positive childbirth experience, so she asks them about their baby – if they’ve chosen a name, what outfit they’ve picked for the trip home from the hospital.

“I make sure I gather information about the patient before I even step into the room, and then I talk with them and get to know them and how their pregnancy has been going,” she said. “I find out their goals for their delivery so I can provide patient-centered care.”

She knew a C-section wasn’t Ruthie’s original goal, so she was careful to listen to her concerns and provide clear information about what to expect. She assured her she would be supported by world-class technology and an experienced, caring team.

While Blake and Ruthie quickly developed full faith in Dr. Pinckney, when they arrived at the labor & delivery center, they were understandably nervous.

“I knew Regional One Health provides world-class care and has the best surgeons, so there was no better pace to get a C-section,” Blake said. “But we were scared about having a baby. We were scared about my wife having to get cut open. We were scared about the first seconds we’d be alone with him. We were terrified.”

Ruthie and Blake said Dr. Pinckney and her team went out of their way to make their experience special. “They do this every day, but still they were so genuinely happy and excited for us,” Blake said. “That let me lose myself in the experience and be happy and carefree.”

But from the moment they arrived, they felt cared for. Even better, their doctors and nurses were eager to share in their joy. “They do this every day, but still they were so genuinely happy and excited for us,” Blake said. “No one seemed jaded or like they were just trying to get through the day. That let me lose myself in the experience and be happy and carefree.”

That’s exactly what should happen, Dr. Pinckney said. “We’re always excited for good outcomes and successful deliveries. It’s important to us to provide emotional support and make a personal connection with our patients. It shouldn’t feel generic – it should be a special experience!”

When little Emmett O’Ryan Lichterman – named for his maternal grandfather – arrived, the new family continued to enjoy exceptional care. Their nurses shared tips for changing diapers, swaddling, and even making a shushing noise that works wonders to calm Emmett: “There are so many tricks they taught me that I’ve been using religiously,” Blake said.

Now home, they’re embracing the joys and challenges of newborn care.

“Having a baby is the most difficult, scary, best thing I’ve ever done,” Blake said. “Just looking at him and holding him and kissing his cheeks is amazing. The best thing in the world is watching him smile in his sleep and knowing he’s happy in his dreams.”

The path to those moments wasn’t what they expected, but everyone they met at Regional One Health made a lasting positive impression – which is especially remarkable considering they had less than a week to get to know the team that would usher them into parenthood.

“Someone else had been holding our hands through all of this for eight months, and we had an entirely different plan,” Blake said. “But it all felt very personal, and everything was done with the utmost attention. We received exceptional care from the get-go.”

Visit regionalonehealth.org/labor-and-delivery/ for more about our labor & delivery services.