Home Birth Mother
The Making of a Home Birth Mother
and Birth Alternatives Advocate
by Rosemary Romberg
drawings by Linda Tagliaferro
Scene #1: In the Hospital Labor Room: *
Scene #2: In the Delivery Room During Active Second Stage (Pushing) **
Scene #3: At Birth:
Scene #4: The Next Day in the Recovery Room Holding the Baby for the First
Time (12 Hours After Birth): ****
Scene #5: Months Later:
All of the events depicted on this page are true. They took place when our first son, Eric, was born back in 1972. My husband and I had taken Lamaze classes, read many books, and were considerably more knowledgeable and prepared than most expectant couples. It had been very important to us that Steve be present in the delivery room during the birth, and that I be given no medication unless absolutely necessary. I had also attended several La Leche League meetings and was highly motivated to successfully breastfeed. I did successfully give birth without medication by using the Lamaze techniques, and Steve was present (at the last minute) in the delivery room as we had planned. Still, even in our extremely knowledgeable and motivated state, many of the other hospital practices left much to be desired.
This hospital was actually considered one of the most supportive of “natural childbirth” in that particular area at that time. Mine was not a particularly “bad” birth experience for that time and place, compared to what many other mothers experienced. These were simply typical and not unusual birthing practices and attitudes.
Two and a half years later, in 1974, I gave birth to our second son, Jason, in a considerably more progressive hospital. When Jason was born I held him immediately on the delivery table. Soon after that we had total, uninterrupted rooming in.
Nearly five years after Eric’s birth, in 1977 our third son, Ryan was born at home. Later our fourth child, Lisa, was also born at home in 1981. After I had experienced two tragic miscarriages in 1983 and 1984, our fifth child, Kevin was born in a hospital in 1985. (Primarily fear, on the part of local midwives and myself kept me from having him at home.) Our sixth child, Melissa, was born at home in our bathtub in 1989.
* IVs (insertion of an intravenous tube with administration of a glucose solution) were routine at that hospital and were normally started when the mother was dilated to around 5 cm. Today most authorities agree that IVs are not necessary for normal labors and births. (I did not have one during any of my next three births, nor during my sixth baby’s birth.) Although it is not particularly difficult to walk around or use the bathroom with an lV in place (they can be attached to a stand that is on wheels), at this hospital mothers were not allowed out of bed once the IV was inserted.
By the way, although the nurse suggested it, I never was catheterized.
**I pushed for over an hour prior to my first son’s birth. (This is not uncommon for a first time mother.) Normally most of this pushing would have taken place in the labor room. However, another woman was also giving birth in another delivery room and was attended by the same doctor. Therefore, for their convenience, they put us both in the delivery rooms at the same time. I pushed like this for over an hour while lying flat on my back on the delivery table with no one to support me. My husband was present for the birth, but was not allowed into the delivery room with me until a few minutes before the actual birth.
***Strapping mothers’ arms down to the delivery table like this was a routine practice at that hospital. During pregnancy I had heard about and had felt horrified by that practice and had specifically requested that my arms not be restrained. However, since I had “disobeyed” and reached out for my baby, they strapped my arms down immediately after his birth as the baby was quickly whisked off to the nursery.
**** During pregnancy I had asked about holding and nursing the baby on the delivery table. The doctor was against it, but assured me that the baby would be brought to me “at the next feeding” (they had a four hour feeding schedule) and that I would not have to “wait 12 hours or anything like that.” However, since the baby was born shortly after 9 o’clock at night, the “next feeding” turned out to be at 9 a.m. the next morning!
(Originally published in 1985.)