VERMILLION, S.D. — With her soft voice, gentle demeanor and strong credibility, it’s no wonder soon-to-be parents keep coming back to Mary Jo Olson, M.D., to deliver their babies. Dr. Olson delivered Sidney Ann, her 1,000th baby at Sanford Health on March 30.
A graduate from the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, Olson has delivered babies for USD students, faculty, coaches, coaches’ wives and other Vermillion and nearby residents since 2000.
“The benefit of Vermillion is knowing your patients and knowing the whole family,” Olson says. “I have many patients that I see four generations of their families, so it gives you a pretty good insight of the dynamics of the family and what to look for.”
“If any one of us is not available for one of our deliveries, we know our patients are in the very capable hands of our partners,” Olson says.
From baby one to baby 1,000, Olson has seen firsthand how the delivery process has changed throughout the years.
“Here, one of the biggest things is that now we have epidurals. I mean, I realize that Sioux Falls had epidurals before. We only had what was called intrathecals,” Olson says. “They’re similar, except they only last for a couple hours, so you had a real short window of pain relief. So epidurals are wonderful.”
There have also been changes with the post-delivery process. Where health care providers once took the babies and placed them in warmers right away, they now give the babies skin-to-skin contact with their mothers and try to have the mother nurse soon after delivery.
One thing that hasn’t changed throughout her career is that it’s never quite certain when the babies will come. Olson has had two cases of mothers pushing for seven hours, and she’s also had cases where she’s received a frantic call from the hospital saying she needs to be there immediately.
“I got one about a few weeks ago and they say, ‘so-and-so is in here and she’s got to push, and you’ve got to come right now!‘”
In cases like that, Olson gets there as fast as she can, even if it means coming in her pajamas.
“I got there with three minutes to spare,” she laughs.
While not every case goes as planned, Olson says it’s always exciting, and every baby delivered is a miracle. With the success of delivering 1,000 babies, she says she’s thankful for the opportunity God gave her.
“I just feel I was very privileged to be able to come here and that I could deliver babies, because that’s what I really wanted to do,” Olson says. “It’s a gift to get to do that, and that people trust me enough to allow me to do it.”