Jennifer Riccardi of Morganville never slowed down during her third pregnancy. She and her husband, Joe, were purchasing a new home and temporarily living at her parents’ house in Old Bridge while juggling the responsibilities of their two young boys—not to mention her busy job managing more than 100 staff.
It turns out that their new baby girl, Madison, also prefers a fast pace. About a month before her due date, Jennifer began having sporadic contractions that her OB/GYN team confirmed were not labor. As her due date grew close, she woke up on consecutive nights to contractions that again went away. Then, early in the morning on November 19, four days before her due date, the contractions became more regular.
Her husband, Joe, turned back home from his commute to New York City. They coordinated care for their boys and left for the 25-minute ride to CentraState as the contractions got stronger.
“Over the prior month, I had joked that we’d have the baby in the car because it was hard to tell whether my contractions were labor,” says Jennifer. “I realized that I may have jinxed myself as I yelled for my husband to drive faster.”
With the next contraction, Jennifer’s water broke. With another, she thought she felt the baby’s head. Joe scrambled to pull the car over to a safe place, and with a final strong contraction, Jennifer realized their baby was arriving.
Joe called 9-1-1 and rushed to the passenger seat to deliver his baby girl. Stunned, he handed baby Madison to Jennifer. Together, they untangled the umbilical cord and quickly wrapped her up on the cold 40° day.
Expert Care at CentraState
As Jennifer and Joe tried to process the experience, the police and EMS team arrived to provide initial care and get them to CentraState. They were brought right to Labor and Delivery, where board-certified neonatologist Anthony Marino, MD, was ready to examine Madison, while board-certified OB/GYN Michael Dimino, MD, and the maternity team cared for Jennifer.
“While we don’t see situations like this often, a birth outside the safe, controlled environment of the hospital means we check newborns for additional issues, like hypothermia, low blood sugar, and the possibility of infection,” explains Dr. Marino. “By having a neonatologist on the unit 24/7—along with laborist OB/GYNs always here on nights and weekends—we’re ready for anything. It also brings an added measure of reassurance to our community.”
Thankfully, both Jennifer and Madison were in good health.
“Our care team was so supportive, and of course everyone was interested in what happened,” says Jennifer, who is now getting settled into their new home and slowing down—just a bit—to soak in the family time. “It was unbelievable, but we managed it. It will certainly be an interesting story to share with Madison one day.”
How Do You Know if You’re In Labor?
According to Dr. Dimino, labor for a second or third baby usually progresses much more quickly than the first. He offers these tips as a general guide:
- Contractions that are sporadic and are uncomfortable rather than painful may be false labor.
- The standard for true labor is when contractions are five minutes apart for about an hour. But call your doctor sooner if a recent exam showed any dilation or that the baby is low.
“A more conservative guideline is having regular contractions that you think are real for 30 minutes,” he says. “Above all, be in touch with your doctor, especially if you’re unsure. We’d rather have a patient come in too early than too late.”