Tahjanae Northcutt helps families welcome new additions at The BirthPlace
With a lifelong passion for women’s and children’s health, Northcutt helps provide coordinated care to parents and families.
What is your role as manager of The BirthPlace at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica?
I am fortunate that I get to oversee the activities and operations of one of the happiest places in our hospital. The BirthPlace is composed of three units: labor and delivery, postpartum and perinatal care, and neonatal intensive care (NICU). We welcome about 130 babies every month. I manage the administrative staff, nurse assistants, surgical technicians and lactation consultants.
I’m one of the first, and last, points of contact for families. I conduct facility tours and coordinate our new parent-education programs, such as classes in childbirth, baby care, breastfeeding and infant CPR. I also provide references for Santa Monica daycares and car-seat inspection stations.
What sparked your interest in maternity care?
I’ve always wanted to help women and children. While pursuing a double major in women’s studies and biology, I discovered that I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes elements of women’s and children’s healthcare. I felt happiest when I was out of the lab and actually doing something that I felt made a difference in women’s lives.
While pursuing my master’s degree in counseling psychology, I started working temporary positions at UCLA Health, first as an administrative assistant for a breast-imaging center, and then for an interventional radiology department. When a permanent position opened up as unit secretary for the labor and delivery department at The BirthPlace, I jumped on it! During my five years as unit secretary, I learned the ins and outs of the daily operations here. I’ve been the manager now for four years.
What is the best part of your job?
I love getting to know the families and meeting the babies. I get to interact with parents from the time that they start preparing for delivery until the time that they leave with their little ones in their arms.
Some of our patients are here because their pregnancies are high-risk. These women can be with us for months. They become a part of our family. I check in with these moms-to-be each day to see how they’re doing and if they need anything. For the most part, these women are confined to their beds and it can sometimes feel lonely and depressing.
A few years ago, I worked with a social worker at The BirthPlace to start an antepartum support group for these women. With their doctors’ permission, they attend sessions every other week. It’s an opportunity for them to leave their rooms and talk to others who are going through something similar. They swap phone numbers and text and chat from their rooms. Hosting this support group is very rewarding.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
It is heartbreaking when parents lose a child either as a stillbirth or in the NICU. Fortunately, we don’t experience this type of loss often, but when it happens, it is hard on the family and our entire staff.
To learn more about The BirthPlace at UCLA, visit: birthplace.uclahealth.org.