Dr. Natalie Moore, an Emergency Physician at UConn John Dempsey Hospital was UConn Health’s first International Disaster Emergency Medicine Fellow who has volunteered her medical expertise after several natural disasters including 4 hurricanes. So it’s not surprising she worked right through a shift in the Emergency Department (ED) in active labor before delivering her first baby.
Moore had been experiencing Braxton Hicks, sometimes known as “false” labor pains that a pregnant woman might have before “true” labor. It was only December 9th and she was scheduled for an induction on December 30th which was also her birthday, so it didn’t faze her too much that she hadn’t been feeling great the past few days.
Her co-workers were great about reaching out and offering to take her shifts and coming into fill extra shifts while she was on knowing that it would be a tough month for her physically. When Moore started her 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. shift, notoriously the busiest shift of the day, she wasn’t feeling well, having back pain and pressure. Her boss, Dr. Robert Fuller, Chief of the Emergency Department surprised her and came in to help which was a huge relief as the ED was very busy that day.
Throughout her shift, what she thought were Braxton Hicks contractions had steadily become regular every 5 minutes.
Around 5 p.m. she had a gynecological/oncology patient that needed a consult. When Resident Stephanie Chung came to see the patient, Moore gave her some insight into what she was experiencing and asked her opinion. Chung indicated that it wouldn’t hurt to stop into the labor and delivery department after her shift to make sure that all was okay.
When she signed out of her shift at 6 p.m. and went to labor and delivery to be checked before her long drive home she was shocked to find out she was in active labor.
It was her first baby and she had expected the labor to cause pain in her abdomen however she had been having back labor throughout the day and didn’t know it.
She called her husband Jake Thibault to come to the hospital and at 3:20 a.m. on December 10th Parker Kyle Thibault made his way into the UConn family at 5lbs 12 oz. and 18.5 centimeters.
“It’s such an inspiration that she worked an entire shift and then went onto deliver her son,” says Fuller. “It elevates the mood for those who have been exhausted dealing with COVID. Everyone is so proud of her!”
Being pregnant and an ED doctor during a pandemic was certainly an experience and having had worked in disaster areas previously Moore described the COVID pandemic as “a disaster coming to your front door.”
She was never concerned about being pregnant and working in the ED during the COVID pandemic. “I knew that the PPE worked and had faith in it working, and it did, I never got COVID,” says Moore. “The hospital is the one place I always felt safest.”
“I have the best boss and co-workers who throughout my pregnancy and especially at the end were there for me in every way,” says Moore. “The care I received as a patient was amazing and I’m so proud to work at UConn Health.”
Moore and her husband are enjoying their time at home with Parker and she plans to be back in the ED later this spring.