| BY MARY ANN LITTELL |
PHOTOS BY PETER BYRON
On October 16, 1997, Elizabeth Fieschko was born. Standing by in the birthing room to welcome her into the world were her father, Mike, her seven-year-old sister, Rose, family friends Lenni Benicaso and Rita Riccardi, Rita's three-month-old, Gina...and last but not least, a HealthState photographer, who captured the entire event on film. Elizabeth was born at St. Michael's Medical Center in Newark. Providing prenatal care and assisting at her birth were UMDNJ nurse-midwives, all faculty members in the Nurse-Midwifery Program at the School of Health Related Professions. Elizabeth's mother, Joanne, chose a midwife-assisted birth because she liked the midwives' more personalized approach and their support of natural childbirth.
"Midwife means 'with woman,' and that's what a midwife birth is," Joanne said. "It's women supporting women. They work with your body's natural processes, rather than hurrying the birth along."
In 1997, an estimated 200,000 babies were delivered in the US by certified nurse-midwives. Most of the deliveries occurred in hospitals. Studies have shown that women with low-risk pregnancies who choose midwives to attend them receive less anesthesia, have fewer cesarean sections and fewer episiotomies than those who choose obstetric births.
"I wanted to birth my baby myself, with as little intervention as possible," said Joanne. "The midwives respected my wishes and helped make Elizabeth's birth a really special event for all of us."