Jessica L. Illuzzi, MD, MS, chief of Laborists and Midwifery for Yale Medicine, can pinpoint exactly when she became interested in natural child delivery. Her mother, a doula, participated in a study examining their role in childbirth. At the time, Dr. Illuzzi, a high school student, participated as a research assistant in the study.
“That really showed me the barriers women face in achieving their desired birthing experiences,” says Dr. Illuzzi, who is director of obstetrics at the Vidone Birthing Center at Yale New Haven Health’s Saint Raphael campus. “I went into obstetrics to be a part of the effort to provide women with safe low-intervention, natural birth experiences in the hospital.”
At Vidone, a midwife delivers the baby and an obstetrician is always on hand to help if any complications arise. “Even if a woman develops preeclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy), gestational diabetes or another problem, it will still feel like a natural birth experience and we will help her feel in control,” Dr. Illuzzi says. “I love working with the midwives and families as a team. If we go through a long labor and end up having a vaginal birth, it’s so gratifying. It’s just the midwife and family in the room and I’m out in the hallway, but I hear this invigorating cheer.”
Ultimately, Dr. Iluzzi says her goal is to support women. “If a woman needs an intervention, I don’t want her to feel disappointed or that we pushed her into it,” she says. “Our goal is for women to make educated choices they can feel good about.”
Dr. Illuzzi’s research interest include examining ways to lower the rate of cesarean sections. She is also an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine.