I had my first child in 1971. He was a term baby and I was among the first to deliver at Madison General Hospital in Madison Wisconsin using the "new" Lamaze Method. I had attended classes and was good to go. There was a record breaking blizzard that morning and I called my obstetrician when my contractions were about ten minutes apart and I wasn't so smiley-faced anymore. He picked us up in his four-wheel drive and tires with chains and off we went. The streets were empty.
He dropped me off at the emergency room and they put me a wheelchair, off to L&D. I was admitted to a communal labor room where women in various phases of labor were crying, moaning and screaming. I had an enema, they shaved every last hair off my bottom and let me be. He came in shortly and broke my bag of waters. I was at six centimeters. I labored for about an hour, doing my patterned- paced breathing and several nurses and doctors came by to witness this Lamaze event. When I was complete they transferred me to a delivery room.
I was strapped to a flat gurney. Leather belts around my wrists and ankles; I don't even think that my knees were bent. And I pushed when then told me and the boy came out. The doctor cut the cord and someone went off to tell Dad that we had a boy. The boy was swiftly removed to the nursery and I am sure that some nurse put a bottle of formula in his mouth. Of course, I was going to breastfeed, even though my mother was appalled. They brought him to me every four hours and he was always asleep; in retrospect, I am sure it's because he had just been fed. He slept in the nursery at night and in between feedings and I had a nice roommate and my husband went home. I was there for the longest five days of my life and the delivery cost one hundred dollars.
Do I have to tell you how hard it was to nurse? Or bond? Did I tell you that no one had a clue why I cried all the time and that the most supportive response was, "Well this is what you said you wanted. "? He cried a lot and I was too intimidated to call the pediatrician. When I got pregnant a second time about two and one- half years later, I had become very active in a group of new mother's for change and worked doubly hard to try to have the experience be a very different one. The baby was due the middle of 1974.
I will continue the personal saga with my next week's blog but the point of this history is: where do we stand in maternity care now? What year is it? What has changed and why do my peers and colleagues wonder what happened and when. The Cesarean Section rate was about 5% at this hospital and my doctor was a solo practitioner. Ten percent of women breast-fed and there was no "rooming -in" or LDR suites. Most women still were using scopalamine for anesthesia and episiotomy was standard of care. What did this mother's for change group accomplish and and what remains and what has changed?
Stay tuned, the saga will continue.........