Historical Documentation of WaterBirth at Roosevelt Hospital, NYC


By Judith Elaine Halek

Photos and Article Copyright @ 2000 Judith Elaine Halek

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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.

ariellabjround1. 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.

2. Almost exactly 4 months later, February 4, 1994 at 4:49 p.m.breechbirth 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.

eve24. 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.

5. Shortly after, on July 9th, Mindy and Kirk Van Nostrand underwater birthed Samantha Claire at 6:42 AM with Dr. Rodke as the medical caregiver.

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.

As of December 1999, an independent birth center is located just below the obstetrical eve1ward 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.

UPDATE as of 2013:  Each room on the obstetrical floor in Roosevelt Hospital has been equiped with a tub to labor in only.  Bring your own PLUG because all plugs to the tubs have ‘mysteriously’ disappeared.  IF you can be so lucky as to NOT be attached to the monitors or epidurals or drugs, you will be able to move around much more and engage in a bath!

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