Beth Hedrick, director of obstetrics at Thomas, said those postpartum rooms are important for mothers.
"When you're getting ready to deliver a baby, you want that room to be private, and you want your family to be involved. It's such a special time, and you want to be together, and you don't want to have to share that room with strangers."
Women and Children's opened 31 private postpartum rooms just last week. They had been under construction for more than 18 months.
Witte said the project wasn't a reaction to the decrease in births, but because the nation is headed in that direction in terms of privacy.
"It's possible the lack of rooms was one factor in the decline, but now that we're all on the same playing field with private rooms, it should be easier to compare apples to apples," Witte said.
"Now that we have all private rooms, it complements our highest level of NICU care. Having the NICU - if there is any kind of complication, it's right around the corner. That helps put parents' minds at ease."
Hedrick said Thomas started advertising its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit around 2010, when they saw a spike in births.
"Folks didn't know Thomas had a NICU. When I came back to the area in 2010, I was not aware, but then I started seeing the signs. We started showing that we, too, have that. Mothers don't want to be separated from their babies."
Now that Women and Children's also offers the private postpartum rooms, the decision for parents may be more difficult, Witte said. CAMC accommodates thousands of births each year, while Thomas just passed 1,000 births in 2011.
"We'll have to wait and see what happens, as did they when they switched," Witte said. "We're doing some advertising to let the public know we have the private rooms, and hopefully that number will rebound."
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