BIRTH NUMBERS: Record For Mercy West Lakes

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A record number of babies were born at Mercy Medical Center’s West Lakes location in 2012.

Mercy Medical Center says there were 284 babies birthed at the West Des Moines hospital last year. The hospital saw a 16.87-percent increase in births from the previous year.

The downtown Des Moines Mercy location and West Lakes combined to bring 5,137 babies into the world in 2012.

Mercy says some of its patients at the West Lakes location took advantage of a new program launched in September that allows a volunteer birth doula to be present during the delivery for no extra charge.

Some studies show that having a doula present during birth has benefitted mothers. Shorter births, less use of pain medications, and a reduction in cesarean section rates are among the benefits reported.

Mercy says about 8.6-percent of its West Lake laboring mothers used the program between September and December.