When it comes to the actual birth of a child most people would probably agree with Kate Paletta of Mt. Kisco, New York that child birth is often accompanied with some form of neo-natal horror story. The planned home birth of her third child Bobby had the typical happy ending only without the typical three act drama.
That does not mean she isn't compelled to tell her story, especially in this age where women commonly respond to pregnancy with, she says, "just get me to the hospital, get me the drugs, that's all I want."
Getting to the hospital seemed all thatshe should want five years ago when she became pregnant with her first child. The traumatic birth, complete with the unquestioned administration of pain killers, left mother and son Harrison with complications. "I was injured mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually," she says.
Initially, not ever wanting to have another child, she realized Harrison's pre-birth plan really wasn't much of a plan. "I didn't know where to go, what to do and somebody just said, go there," she says. In her research, she found a group of midwives that ran a birthing cottage adjacent to Putnam Hospital in Peekskill, New York.
In contrast to the hospital, she likened the cottage to a big bedroom when Mikey came along to make Harrison a brother. She says, "I never felt comfortable with at the hospital, where I felt more like a number than a name.
"A medical procedure" is the way her husband Mike Paletta described the care, as opposed to the cottage where, he says, "You had full confidence in the midwives, just by the way they carried themselves, and how familiar they are with pregnant women."
By the time Bobby's turn came, the birthing cottage was closed so the Paletta's did some more homework and made the leap to a home birth. She learned and experienced that child birth comes naturally because "a woman knows how to have a baby."
Well, this was no solo act. Joining the birth team of Mike, Harrison and Mikey, was midwife Martha Roth of Nyack. Ms. Roth has been a midwife since 1993 when she received her B.S. from Columbia in Nursing with a certificate in Midwifery.
She says, "The decision to stay out of a hospital can be very empowering for a women, because she is really in control of thesituation. She doesn't have to adjust to the patriarchal hierarchical picture of hospital birth, which takes away everything from you when you walk in the door, including your clothes, your belongings and asks you to adjust to their system."
Or more maternally said, "it's just scary there and you panic," says Ms. Paletta in reference to the omnipotent doctors and the impersonal setting. And having a sense of control and comfort goes along way towards the typical happy ending.
Equally important, though, keeping the drama down to one act, even when the labor lasts 18 hours. For Ms. Paletta, enduring that duration was manageable, because she was at home - engulfed in the comfort of her family - and secure in a bond that develops between family and midwife.
In the hospital, "I would have had a Caesarian immediately," and that is nothing to scoff at according to Ms. Roth. "Caesarian is a euphemism for major abdominal surgery," and feels the medical community has stopped accessing the risks when women still die from this procedure, she adds, but Ms. Roth does not end her concerns there.
With the perception of labor in today's world, she believes the medical profession down plays the impact of drugs and questions the blanket use of epidurals. She says, "the jury is still out" on this anesthesia administered through the spine and fears a health backlash over the next decade. She also voiced concerns on the use of episiotomies to speed labor and the excessive use of suctioning.
That is the process in which the water is suctioned from a baby's lungs after a Caesarian, although Ms. Roth is clear about her gratitude towards the local hospitals that are standing by in the event of a transfer. Amazingly, she's never had an emergency transfer, and plans to keep it that way.
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