A Successful Pregnancy After Devastating First Birth

The experts at LVPG Maternal Fetal Medicine help create healthy babies during high-risk pregnancies

Briel Rhoades was devastated in April 2015 when doctors discovered her baby’s heart had stopped beating (she was 35 weeks pregnant). Though grieving, she yearned for more children in the future.

In August 2015, she met with LVPG Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist Albert Sarno, MD. Maternal Fetal Medicine specializes in high-risk pregnancies – mothers with diabetes, those carrying multiples, or like Rhoades, having experienced fetal death. Sarno had examined the baby, named Sadie, plus the placenta. His diagnosis? “This placenta unexpectedly and with no warning stopped nourishing this baby,” Sarno says. When meeting with patients like Rhoades, Sarno focuses on communication. “They need to know you care about what they've been through, and that we will do our absolute best to get this pregnancy to go the way they want.”

The timing of their meeting was extraordinary. One week later, Rhoades found out she was pregnant. She was understandably thrilled but also terrified. Sarno was ready with a plan in place.

A step-by-step MFM plan

Even though there was no official diagnosis for Sadie’s death, Sarno had noticed some small blood clots in the placenta. “This could have restricted blood flow to the baby,” he says. To avoid similar issues with the new pregnancy, Sarno prescribed low-dose baby aspirin (it helps prevent clotting).

In addition to Rhoades’ well checks with her ob/gyn, Sarno administered regular ultrasounds to check blood flow to the placenta. Starting at 32 weeks she visited MFM twice weekly for non-stress tests and amniotic fluid level checks as well. Everything continued to look great.

The final element of Sarno’s plan was to induce Rhoades at 39 weeks. “We wanted to put the baby in her arms so she didn’t have to worry anymore,” he says.

Briel welcomes her baby

Daughter Myla was born April 18, 2016, at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Cedar Crest, weighing 7 pounds, 4 ounces. “It was a wonderful outcome,” Sarno says. Rhoades now attends a moms’ support group and new mothers’ exercise class on Mondays at LVH–Cedar Crest. She’s looking forward to those same services when LVH–Muhlenberg opens the Family Health Pavilion in summer 2017. When Rhoades gets pregnant again, she hopes to deliver there, which is just minutes from her Northampton home. “We’ll always be high-risk so we’ll still see Dr. Sarno at MFM,” she says. Lucky for her he will be moving to the new facility as director of MFM for LVH–Muhlenberg.