How Southcoast’s Maternity Services Give the Best Start in Life

Sophisticated, comfortable care for mothers, infants and their families

Michael Pepi, MD, joined Southcoast Health as Chief of Obstetrics & Gynecology for Southcoast Health in August. In his role, Dr. Pepi will provide both direct patient care and medical leadership for the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Dr. Pepi comes to Southcoast Health with 28 years of experience, including serving as the Chief of Obstetrics & Gynecology over the past 10 years at Memorial Hospital in Rhode Island.

Health+: You have been practicing for about 30 years. In that time, have you seen patient expectations change?

Dr. Pepi: There has been a dramatic change in expectations over the past three decades. Patients usually have a great deal to say about how they want their delivery to be — ranging from the music they want playing, to who they want in the room and more. Each patient can have different expectations and desires for their delivery. Environment matters more now. The environment needs to be pleasant and the patient needs to have some control over their experience.

Pain relief or control, of course, also influences the experience. With the use of epidural anesthesia, women are able to enjoy the birthing experience more.

H+: How do you help meet those expectations?

Dr. Pepi: In the birthing process, there are two patients: the mother and the infant. The experience for both must be positive and as free from anxiety as possible. My philosophy is to remain flexible as long as we are ensuring the safety of both patients. This would mean continuous monitoring by a physician or midwife.

H+: What impact has the internet had on women’s experience and expectations while pregnant?

Dr. Pepi: When a woman becomes pregnant or is planning to become pregnant, she usually wants information. Friends and family members might share their experiences, which might be positive or negative. And these days, most people rely on the internet for information. Sometimes using the internet can be more confusing than helpful because there is so much conflicting material. Some of the information is accurate, but some might be inaccurate, so there may be some misunderstandings.

As medical professionals, part of our job is to help patients get accurate information and have all of their questions answered so they understand what to expect.

H+: What is your impression of the maternity units at Southcoast’s three hospitals?

Dr. Pepi: I am very pleased with the maternity units at all three Southcoast hospitals. They are pleasant, comfortable and have all the newest equipment. Each has a particular strength, and one of my goals is to integrate the three so that those strengths are shared across all sites.

H+: Southcoast’s philosophy has been to not just focus on the new mother and infant, but to provide what is called family-centered care. How do you think this philosophy is beneficial?

Dr. Pepi: Our primary patients will always be the mother and the infant, and their health, safety and well-being will always come first. But babies are born into families that can include a father or partner, other children and extended family members who can be involved in caring for the infant. It is important that we create a comfortable environment for the entire family so that those important first days after birth, when bonding occurs, are the best they can be, education can take place and questions can be answered. The overall goal is to ensure the baby — and family — have the best start possible.

To learn more, visit Southcoast Maternity Services.