Maternity Services

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Deciding to have a baby is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make, and selecting where to have your baby is the next big step in your joyful journey. As the preferred destination for nearly 4,000 Atlanta moms a year, Emory Decatur Hospital is here for you. We inspire women to make informed choices that support a unique, personal birth experience. We offer respectful and equitable care throughout every step of the labor, birth and postpartum process, and adopt a holistic approach that addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the mother-to-be and her baby. We give personalized care with respect and dignity that is woman-centered and empowering.

In 2014, Emory Decatur Hospital was the first hospital in Georgia to earn the international “Baby-Friendly” Hospital Initiative (BFHI) designation from Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. In addition to the prestigious “Baby-Friendly” designation, the hospital was also awarded a 5-STAR Hospital Recognition from the Georgia Department of Public Health in 2015. We embrace evidence-based best practices in maternity care, including Couplet Care.

At Emory Decatur Hospital, you will find state-of-the-art labor and delivery rooms, a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and our 24/7 onsite neonatologists, anesthesiologists and obstetricians. It's care you can trust from our maternal fetal medicine specialists, neonatologists, reproductive endocrinologists, pediatricians and a highly skilled and engaged nursing staff who are working in concert to ensure a safe delivery and a positive, fulfilling birth experience.


Emory Decatur Hospital was the first hospital in the state of Georgia to be recognized as Baby-Friendly.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The initiative’s goal is to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies through breastfeeding and immediate skin-to-skin bonding.

The award is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps as demonstrated by quality processes.

Steps to receiving Baby-Friendly designation include:

  • A written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  • Training all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
  • Informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  • Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  • Showing mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  • Giving newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
  • Practicing “rooming in,” allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  • Encouraging breastfeeding on demand.
  • No pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  • Fostering the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and referring mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

As a Baby-Friendly hospital, all Women and Infant services staff are trained to assist mothers in gaining the skills and confidence they need to breastfeed starting with prenatal appointments and they are available once the baby arrives.

Other important practices of Baby-Friendly hospitals include encouraging skin-to-skin contact between mothers and newborns and rooming in. Both practices encourage bonding and improve the newborn’s ability to breastfeed.

The Georgia 5-STAR Hospital Recognition program is awarded to hospitals that have accomplished all ten steps of the “Baby-Friendly” designation. Hospitals and birthing facilities that accomplish each step of the Baby-Friendly designation are awarded one star for every two steps implemented from the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Hospitals are also required to complete the Georgia Breastfeeding Program-Scorecard Tool to receive their stars.


Emory Decatur Hospital’s Maternity Services provides family-centered care (also known as couplet care), in which mother and baby stay together from childbirth to discharge. Couplet care is an evidence-based best practice in maternity care that facilitates family bonding, supports successful breastfeeding and increases patient satisfaction.

Couplet Care Begins the Moment of Childbirth

As soon as your baby is born, he or she will be dried off and placed skin-to-skin in direct contact with you. This initial contact helps your baby regulate his or her breathing, heart rate, temperature and more. Right after birth most babies are very awake and willing to be fed. This is a wonderful time for mother and baby to start learning how to breastfeed.

Couplet Care Continues Throughout Your Inpatient Stay

We minimize maternal-infant separation in accordance with American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. You and your baby are cared for together with one nurse caring for the "couplet." Your baby stays in your hospital room, even at night. We encourage all maternity patients to have someone spend the night to be a second set of hands for the new mom. In an effort to support bonding between mom and baby we also practice quiet time. This is an intentional period of time daily where we minimize staff interruptions and allow mom and baby time together and encourage rest and relaxation.


Should your baby require extra attention and special care, Emory Decatur Hospital offers a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). This unit is for babies who are born prematurely or those who need heart monitoring, special medications or assistance breathing. Emory Decatur Hospital is the closest NICU to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, which is known for its pediatric heart surgery program.

Our unit features 46 centrally monitored infant beds in the NICU and Growing Preemie Nursery. They are supported by specially educated nurses and respiratory therapists, who can also attend to newborns in need of assistance starting in the delivery room.

Parent Participation

Because babies can be in neonatal intensive care anywhere from one day to several months, parents take an active role in their baby’s care while they are in the NICU with family-centered time and encouragement to participate in bedside care when possible.

As part of our neonatal intensive care program, we help prepare parents for life at home with one-on-one instruction for parents and family members before they take their baby home. Before discharge, parents can “room in” with infants who require complex care so they can establish a routine with the support of the neonatal staff prior to leaving the hospital.

NICU support services include neonatal respiratory therapy, advanced practice nurses, physical and occupational therapies and audiology services. Follow-up services with developmental, hearing and vision specialists and others are available, if needed.