Delicate flower print wallpaper, a rocking chair, pictures on the walls, and other home-like touches helped bring in a new era in childbirth to Princeton Community Hospital. The new Home Delivery Room was unveiled at PCH's Obstetrics Wing this week in 1978.

"There has been a new trend in the United States toward improved health...not just medical care, but staying healthy from the very beginning," said Candace Huber, RN and patient educator at PCH. "This is what prepared childbirth is...and the purpose of our program is to fully prepare mothers [and fathers] to completely understand the entire birth process."

PCH's prepared childbirth program provided for a comfortable, "homey" atmosphere for an uninterrupted delivery. There were no IVs, no medications, no stirrups, and no moving from one location to another. The baby arrived in a home-like setting with parents and family in attendance. Medical and emergency precautions were available, but not evident in the room.

Both parents were encouraged to participate in the event, that was set in a softly lit and pleasant surrounding, with the mother knowing how to interpret what was going on with her body and the father acting as a coach to help her through it.Huber pointed out that only parents who had already been through a normal pregnancy and childbirth; and had attended classes to fully understand the processes of childbirth were candidates for the new procedure. She also emphasized that if any complications arose, doctors and medical staff would be immediately available.

During the new process, the mother was attended by the husband or coach, and a hospital staff nurse. The length of stay for a birth was shortened from 3-4 days to 12-24 hours depending on the advice of the physician and obstetrician.

The first person born in the new environment was Matthew Odes Pierce, welcomed by his parents Ray and Janet Pierce on April 4, 1978. Matthew weighed 9 pounds, 6 ounces. His mother was a staff nurse at PCH.

You can reach me regarding stories from the archives that you would like to see covered at gboyles@ptonline.net

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