Waterbirth Update at Roosevelt Hospital In New York City: Once Upon a Time. . . And Maybe Once Again?
By Judith Halek


The week of June 27, 1994, a memo was sent to employees of the Obstetrical Department at Roosevelt Hospital regarding the temporary closure of tub water labors or births until further medical protocol has been established. The development of a medical protocol could take from 6-12 months.

Within the last year, a handful of parents, brought in their own tubs, hired private physicians affiliated with Roosevelt Hospital, labored and some birthed underwater. Of the 9 water labors there have been five successful water births.

The Kiss
1. October 2, 1993 at 12:22 a.m., an 8 pound 14 ounce beautiful baby girl, Ariella Renee Garmaise-Schlossberg, her parents Judy and Boris, medical caregiver, Dr. Juanita Jenyons marked the first successful water birth at Roosevelt Hospital.
Breech First
2. Almost exactly 4 months later, February 4, 1994 at 4:49 p.m. history presented itself in the first United States, documented hospital frank breech underwater birth. The courageous parents of newborn, Damon, are Stacie Teele and Dan Varrichione. Dr. Gae Rodkey was the medical caregiver.
3. By May 15, 1994 the familiar room 12-A 21 on the 12th floor of Roosevelt, was occupied by Dawn and Harold Person-Hampton, a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean), water birthing their beautiful daughter Amara Renee at 1:53 PM. Dr. Juanita Jenyons attended this labor and birth.
Legs Held Wide
4. Come July 7, 1994, Janis Enzenbacher MD, chose water as a labor and birth tool for the underwater birthing of her daughter Eva Liana, entering the world at 11:11 pm with Dr. Rodkey as the attending physician and Isadora Guggenheim as the attending Labor Support Doula and Massage Therapist.
Hands of Light
5. Shortly after, on July 9th, Mindy and Kirk Van Nostrand underwater birthed Samantha Claire at 6:42 AM with Dr. Rodkey as the medical caregiver.

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I commend these bold parents, medical caregiver and Roosevelt Hospital for stepping forward with an inexpensive, innovative, progressive approach to labor and birth. It is time that the epidural become a relic of the past and the future wave is replaced with the waters of life.

Thumbs Up

As of December 1999, an independent birth center is located just below the obstetrical ward in Roosevelt Hospital. The OB ward no longer allows parents to bring in their portable tubs. The birth center has 3 rooms with 3 tubs to labor, but not to birth in. It is my hope that eventually the birth center will open its doors to the water birth option as well.

I would encourage all parents seeking this alternative approach to labor and birth to write the administrative departments of your hospital or birth centers. The administration needs to know this is an alternative option the public wants.

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