Couplet Care: Strengthening the Bonds of Families

At Danville Regional Medical Center (DRMC) new mothers, fathers and family members share one of the happiest experiences of their lives with a team of caring and compassionate professionals who believe in making the moment as fabulous as it should be. “Nothing takes the place of helping to bring a new life into the world,” says Amy Beard, RNC-OB, BSN, Clinical Manager for the Family Birthing Center at DRMC. “We are passionate about caring for our patients and we see the family as an extension of the patient. We don’t just provide delivery and postpartum care, we provide education and support for families to ensure that babies have the best chance to grow up healthy.” This focus on families has led DRMC to implement a Mother/Baby Couplet Care Model, in which mother and baby remain together for the entire hospital stay. Couplet care helps mother and baby bond and develop a closer relationship. There are many additional benefits to this approach such as giving new parents the opportunity to simply “be parents” while learning in an encouraging environment.

Tammy Moorefield, Registered Nurse (RN), Educator at DRMC’s Family Birthing Center, says, “Our goal is to provide the care a family wants and needs as a whole.” The Mother/Baby Couplet Care delivery model is especially beneficial to first-time parents as they go from delivery directly into the family dynamic. “Instead of having the baby go to the nursery, we encourage the mom to keep the baby with her and the family.  Our mothers are given support in providing total care to their newborn during the entire hospital stay.”

The Mother/Baby Couplet Care model gives parents the opportunity to learn from a staff that has more than 200 years of combined experience in labor and delivery, nursery, and postpartum care.

Tammy says, “Parents are usually at our hospital for 36 to 48 hours, during which time we encourage them to use us as a learning and support resource. We teach them things like how to comfort their newborns and how to recognize feeding cues.”

The Bonding Hour

The hour after delivery is an intimate time shared by the parents and baby in a room without visitors. This “bonding hour” is a time when exams are performed at the mother’s bedside with dad nearby. Debbie Clark, RN, BSN, MBA, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) at DRMC, says “This quiet hour encourages skin-to-skin contact with mom and dad. Skin-to-skin contact helps to regulate the baby’s temperature.” Even after a Cesarean Section, skin-to-skin contact is recommended. Breastfeeding is also encouraged during this time.


Breastfeeding is an important aspect of healthy development for the baby and a method of recovery for the mother. Tammy says, “Couplet care gives the mother the opportunity to start breastfeeding as soon as possible. The sooner a mother starts to breastfeed, the more success she will have.”

One of the major benefits of the Mother/Baby Couplet Care model is the encouragement of breastfeeding. National studies show that breastfed babies tend to be healthier children. The Virginia Department of Health has set a goal that 82 percent of babies born in Virginia will be breastfed. Debbie says, “In the short time since we’ve implemented the couplet care delivery model, we have increased our breastfeeding rate by 10 percent, which is just a tremendous health benefit for our babies.”

A Healthier Mom

Breastfeeding has healthy benefits for mom too. It is linked to lowering the risks for health issues such as ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and postpartum depression. It helps strengthen the bond between mom and baby. But the benefits go much deeper. Amy says, “Breastfeeding can help new mothers lose pregnancy weight because a mother’s body uses more calories while producing breast milk.”

The physical contact of breastfeeding is essential to newborns. The closeness to mom helps babies feel warm and secure. Breastfeeding requires mom to slow down and take some quiet time. Skin-to-skin contact can aid in boosting mom’s oxytocin levels, a hormone that can help calm mom and improve milk flow.

Breastfeeding saves money as well. Formula and supplies can cost upwards of 1500 dollars a year. And since breast-fed infants tend to be healthier, health costs can be lower. Once a routine is established, breastfeeding can make life easier for mom. Time isn’t needed sterilizing bottles and mixing formula.

A Home Away from Home

Physicians, nurses, moms and families recently worked together in planning and implementing new upgrades to DRMC’s Family Birthing Center, which now has the feel and appearance of a modern spa retreat. Our suites feature soft colors and lighting – beautiful decorations and draperies, and other amenities including flat-screen televisions and some feature queen-size therapeutic beds. Every aspect of the center, including the expansive family waiting room and vending area, has been designed with patients and families in mind.


Experience and Success

Since implementing Mother/Baby Couplet Care, patient experience scores have soared to the 99th percentile. Debbie says, “Parents welcome the baby being in the room. Having one nurse take care of baby and mom is special to them.” This delivery model improves the lines of communication between the family, nurses, and doctors. Questions are answered quicker as is nurse response to family needs.

Debbie says, “We are offering evidence-based nursing. Our approach brings all the different pieces of the puzzle together to provide family-centered care in which everyone has a part in delivering the baby and building strong family bonds.”

A very important part of the Mother/Baby Couplet Care model is the eight board-certified obstetricians who serve on DRMC’s Medical Staff. These doctors are constantly looking at best practices nationwide to ensure DRMC is on the cutting edge of care.

Getting Ready for Baby

Many women experience stress and anxiety at some point during their pregnancy. This is completely normal given the physical, emotional and lifestyle changes that pregnancy brings. However learning what to expect during pregnancy will not only help to lower and manage stress, it can also go a long way in helping you to enjoy one of the happiest times in your life. With the Internet, any question can be answered with a quick search, but having a professional to meet with in person is invaluable.

Danville Regional Medical Center (DRMC) offers a wide selection of educational programs and classes to help expectant moms and dads prepare for a healthy and satisfying pregnancy, labor and delivery. Tammy Moorefield RN, Educator at DRMC’s Family Birthing Center says, “Around the 36th week of pregnancy, we invite our moms and dads to come to our hospital, visit with our staff and tour our Center. We go over birth plans and discuss any special wishes they may have for delivery. I educate and inform them on what they can expect while in the hospital including where they can park, what to pack and procedures to follow when visiting after normal hours.” Moorefield says these visits also give expectant parents the opportunity to ask questions, get answers and other useful information. Tammy encourages expectant parents to bring a list of questions so they won’t forget anything.

Pregnancy, especially for first time parents, can be an overwhelming array of “what ifs.” It’s comforting to know that the Family Birthing Center at DRMC is just a phone call – or a short ride – away.

For more information call Tammy Moorefield at 434.799.4527 or visit

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