News & Media

Cutting the Cord on First-of-Its-Kind-in-Canada Wavecare Sensory Delivery Room

October 11, 2023

The cutting of an umbilical cord is normally accompanied by the cries of a newborn and tears of joy from new parents. On October 11, 2023 a cord was cut, this time to ecstatic cheers of the Maternal Child team at the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA) – Stratford General Hospital as they celebrated their new Wavecare Sensory Delivery Room (SDR).

“We are so excited to share with our community the benefits of this type of delivery room,” says Audra Boersen, Manager Maternal Child Unit and Scheduling Unit. “This project has truly been a labour of love and we are so proud to have the first delivery room of this kind in Canada.”

Installed in several hospitals in Denmark and China, the Wavecare SDR provides a stress-reducing environment and supports the labour process with customized programs for childbirth.

A SDR has the same equipment and features as an ordinary delivery room but also includes a digital screen that plays nature scenes, dynamic lights in calming colors and specially designed sound programs such as wave ripples, all of which help to create a more relaxed environment that seems less clinical.

First-time mom Leah gave birth to her son in the SDR in September.

“I was nervous about my labour experience and didn’t know what to expect,” she says. “When we learned the SDR was available I was thrilled as I was hoping this would help put my mind at ease. From the moment we arrived in the room, I felt a sense of calm. I was induced and as we waited for labour to start we were taken to the SDR and we met our Nurse. The digital screen was on and was displaying coloured lights along with calming music. It made the room feel so cozy and home-like. This set the tone for how the rest of our experience went.”

As Leah’s labour progressed the team made use of the different programs to support her through the different stages of birth.

“In total there are nine different themes and patients and their partners are encouraged to change themes as they desire,” says Dr. Cheryl Hillyer.

“For example, the breathing program is beneficial for pain relief and focus and can also be used for relaxation between contractions.”

“We used the welcome program when our son was born and the breastfeed one as well,” adds Leah.

“The Welcome program creates a “nest” ambience, supporting the skin-to-skin contact with the child and the lighting is dimmed reddish, positively affecting the newborn’s rooting and sucking reflex and attachment to the parent,” explains Dr. Hillyer. “The Breastfeed program creates a relaxing environment to instill a sense of security and calm to promote successful breastfeeding.”

Not only does the SDR offer benefits to the labouring patient and their family/caregiver, but it has also been valuable to the team members working on the Maternal Child Unit.

“Being a nurse, physician or midwife is physically and mentally demanding,” says Audra. “When team members are working in the SDR they are reporting decreased stress levels and more professional satisfaction.”

Catherine Goudy, Registered Midwife is one of these team members.

“I value the ability of the SDR to create a calm and relaxing environment for the healthcare providers as well as the patient,” she says. “I’ve really seen the benefits with my students. Labour is not always predictable and things can get a bit intense and I’ve seen it work at calming my students. For me, it’s like I just walk in and it’s like a breath of fresh air. The lighting is amazing and I do have favourites, the optimism theme with the waterfall being one of them. You do have the option of keeping it at one theme, if it is helping the patient.”

With the first SDR now fully operational, and based on positive feedback, the hope is to add more of these rooms as able.

“I would highly recommend the sensory room to any labouring person. I am so grateful it was available for my family and I to use!” adds Leah.

Celebrating the Sensory Delivery Room 

Celebrating HPHA’s – and Canada’s – first Sensory Delivery Room! L to R: Leah Cocker, Patient Partner; Dr. Cheryl Hillyer, Medical Program Director Maternal Child; Lori Merner, Director Patient Care; Matthew Rae, MPP – Perth Wellington; Martin Ritsma, Mayor of Stratford; Lynanne Mason, Vice President Partnerships & Chief Nursing Executive; Audra Boersen, Manager Maternal Child & Scheduling Office; Katie Fearns, Clinical Nurse Educator; Julie Thistlethwaite, RN, Team Leader; Catherine Goudy, Midwife Countryside Midwifery Services