Birth is the Highlight
Every obstetrician and gynecologist remembers their first birth. In Dr. Traci Iwamoto’s case, she says she was a young resident and probably just as scared — and just as excited — as her patient.
“Everything moved so fast … it was such a big blur,” Dr. Iwamoto says. “She was such a sweet patient; a first-time mom filled with a tinge of fear and a lot of excitement. She had a unique look on her face that I won’t ever forget. I’m sure I was sharing that look.”
While she loves the extensive variety of her job, deliveries are a highlight for Dr. Iwamoto. That’s what drew her to East Jefferson General Hospital, which she says specializes in labor and delivery in our region. She and her colleagues are excited about multiple best practice initiatives at EJ to further improve patient care, including: lowering the preemie birth rate through less early induction; adding additional resources for the hospital’s breastfeeding initiative; and encouraging a rooming-in program so mother and child can bond.
Dr. Iwamoto and her partners at East Jefferson Women’s Care also work hard to help women stay low-risk through pregnancy and childbirth. Research shows that pregnant women have better rates of smoking and drinking cessation during pregnancy and she works to build on that, teaching her patients to take care of their bodies and eat well to give themselves, their babies and — through developing and sharing good habits — their families the best health possible.
“There are things you can to do to make a delivery as simple as possible,” she says. “I love letting people take advantage of an uncomplicated, happy delivery to forgo all in the background and enjoy being in the moment. But there is always that small unpredictability … those situations where I was driven to obstetrics to be there for those women.”
What makes life a lot easier for Dr. Iwamoto and her partners is that East Jefferson has been named a magnet program due to excellence in nursing for the fourth year in a row. Add to that the reputation and skills of her partner physicians, and Dr. Iwamoto knows she has landed in the perfect practice. “I see their patients glow when I’m walking around Metairie and downtown,” she says. “Their patients just love them. I feel very fortunate to be able to stay in this area and work with this group.”
Patient care runs the spectrum when it comes to women’s reproductive health, and that is one of the things that first attracted Dr. Iwamoto to her chosen field.
“The beauty of obstetrics and gynecology is that you get to see someone throughout their whole life — from delivery, to well-women visits, and even up to and including difficult situations,” she says. “It’s a great way to advocate for women.”
Her practice emphasizes preventive care by advocating for cancer screenings like manual exams and mammograms for breast cancer and keeping up to date on pap smears for cervical cancer. Though there is some confusion on the frequency of need for these tests, Dr. Iwamoto says her clinic has adopted the stance of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and presses for annual mammographies to more quickly discern changes. They continue to create awareness and talk extensively with each new patient about their family histories for reproductive cancers.
In college, Dr. Iwamoto thought she wanted to be a biomedical engineer, but volunteering at the hospital where her father was a pulmonary and critical care specialist taught her that she was meant to spend time caring for people, not the equipment that treats them. Her OB/GYN rotation in medical school fulfilled everything she wanted as a physician: the continuity of care; the clinic time to sit down and talk with patients; the opportunity to teach women about complicated health issues; the rush of deliveries; and the intricacy of surgery.
While her father certainly mentored and encouraged her, she says she has to give her mother the title of biggest inspiration. She started as a labor and delivery nurse who managed to switch to three different departments of the hospital and get her master’s degree all while raising three kids. She now teaches nurses and pharmacy students. “She’s so versatile, so knowledgeable,” Dr. Iwamoto says. “She’s never stopped for a minute. On top of that, every time I’m cooking, I have to call her.”
Dr. Iwamoto’s parents have visited often from Albuquerque, New Mexico, her hometown. Needless to say, New Orleans has been a little different for her. “But a good different,” she says. “I absolutely fell in love with the city.”
Even though Dr. Iwamoto has finally worked her way up to private practice, in many ways what she started in her residency at LSU never ends. “I’m always learning still,” she says. “You can’t be stagnant. There’s always something you can learn, and each patient is a unique story.”
Undergraduate: University of Iowa (Biomedical Engineering)
Medical School: University of New Mexico School of Medicine
Residency: LSU Health Sciences Center (Obstetrics and Gynecology)
East Jefferson Women’s Care
4228 Houma Blvd., Ste. 410
Metairie, LA 70006