Mothers, babies get personalized nursing care

HARLINGEN – Rio Grande Valley women are benefitting from a family-centered approach with personalized nursing care when they have their baby at The Women’s Center at Harlingen Medical Center.

Under the unique, “personal care” approach at Harlingen Medical Center, a mother who goes into labor is matched one-to-one with a specially-trained registered nurse, who then stays with the same mother as long as possible – both before and after the baby is born.

“Here at Harlingen Medical Center, we strive to give each of our patients the highest quality of care and make the birthing experience a good one,” said Ursula Villarreal, Director of The Women’s Center at Harlingen Medical Center. “We try to keep it one-to-one between our specially-trained registered nurses and the new mother. It’s personalized, with the same nurse with the same patient as long as possible … we try not to ’hand off’ the patient, but instead promote continuity in the care of the patient.”

This individualized concept has been well-received by many Valley women, who have expressed gratitude to the nurse who cared for them and their newborn baby during one of the most important and exciting times of their life.

In fact, now more than 1,000 births per year are celebrated at Harlingen Medical Center’s Women’s Center, making it one of the premiere choices in the Valley for families to welcome their latest additions.

Ms. Villarreal said the new moms also appreciate a setting that is aesthetically-pleasing and conducive to family-centered obstetrics. She said the amenities at Harlingen Medical include:

• “Homelike” labor and delivery suites

• All-private post-partum suites

• Dedicated OB/GYN operating suites

• 21-bassinet newborn nursery

• Free childbirth and breast-feeding classes

• Highly-trained, neonatal-certified specialists

• Expert nursing staff ready to assist new mothers with breastfeeding needs, including two certified lactation consultants

“Harlingen Medical Center cares and is committed to providing excellence in healthcare for women, from childbearing years through menopause,” Ms. Villarreal added. “We care for a broad range of women’s health issues.”

The hospital, which is conveniently located on the Expressway between Harlingen and San Benito (just south of Ed Carey Drive), is also participating in the “Texas Ten Step Star Achiever Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative” program to promote breastfeeding.

“There is continuous support for breastfeeding, because it is a learning process,” Ms. Villarreal added.

Studies have shown that breast milk helps protect newborn babies from many health conditions. As part of the effort to encourage breastfeeding, Harlingen Medical Center teaches mothers about “skin-to-skin breastfeeding” during the “golden hour,” the first hour after the baby is born. This also helps to make bonding closer between mom and baby.

“I definitely see more bonding with my baby from the breastfeeding, and I’m so happy about that,” said Priscilla Claudio, RN, IBCLC, who has been breastfeeding her own baby girl – while also teaching new moms to breastfeed as a certified lactation consultant at Harlingen Medical. “When you breastfeed, you have that special tie with your child.”

“I also notice that my daughter Emma doesn’t get sick as often … she has better immunity; she is very healthy. Even the dentist says the breast milk is good for her teeth,” Priscilla added.

Priscilla along with Jenny Diaz, RNC, IBCLC, recently received board certification from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. Valley women who have questions about breastfeeding are encouraged to ask for Priscilla or Jenny or any of the HMC Women’s Center nurses.

In addition, all new mothers at Harlingen Medical Center can learn about breastfeeding in advance by attending free childbirth preparation classes which Priscilla teaches on the last Saturday morning of every month, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, in HMC’s Medical Office Building (MOB) Conference Room.

It is recommended that new mothers attend the childbirth and breastfeeding class during the 7th, 8th or 9th month of pregnancy. In addition to breastfeeding, the free class includes information on labor, pain relief / medications, and cesarean births, and includes a tour of The Women’s Center at Harlingen Medical Center.

To register for classes

To register for the classes, or for more information about women’s services at Harlingen Medical, please call 956-365-1139, email