Lydi Ronka Owen, founder of midwifery in Southern Nevada, pioneered the homebirth movement in 1972 and still practices today. She has delivered over 2,885 babies and counting!
I was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1943. My family & I immigrated to the United States in 1947, where we settled in Dallas, Texas for 13 years before moving to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1960. I have lived here ever since. I am the mother of 6 children, 10 grandchildren (2 have passed on), 8 great grandchildren and 1 Great Great Grandchild.
I have written 5 books- "Gatekeeper Between The Worlds", "What You Don't Expect When You're Expecting", "The PowerBirth Manual", "Don't Take My Baby Away" & "Invisible Pane/Pain" & I also have a DVD Documentary on Birth.
I left hospitals and doctors and their way of doing things 51 years ago because I was truly traumatized by my births. Non-medicated birth was almost unheard of. Most of us women were tied down to a delivery room table, flat on our backs, leather straps literally making it impossible to move during our births. The majority of us were "knocked out" with ether or another anesthetic during labor and or birth. We didn't even know we had given birth until hours later when we woke up and a nurse showed us our tightly wrapped babies. At that point, we were still unable to hold our newborns because the anesthetics took a long time to wear off. This is not the way I had envisioned my birth experiences to be, and rather than go through this again after 3 hospital births, I planned a home birth with my 4th, 5th, and 6th babies. I had no options but to go it alone, so I gave birth to my 4th child, Amber, at home with just the help of my sister. My 5th baby was born in the breech position, vaginally, in a doctor's office. My 6th baby was born at home.
As word of my home-birth with my 4th baby got around, women began to contact me for help with their home births. I learned midwifery as I helped one woman after another give birth. I had taken some University classes in Anatomy & Physiology, Micro-biology, & Basic Patient Care, but it was my passion and intuition and faith in God that helped me in my journey.
In 1975, I became a H.O.M.E. leader. Home Oriented Maternity Experience was a national organization of women like myself, who had also had home births and wished to share our information with others. It was important for women to have some knowledge of what they needed to have a successful home birth. I held these meetings in Las Vegas once a month, free of charge, for any expectant couples who wished to attend.
I was amazed at how quickly the class attendance increased each month. It was through these meetings that I was asked to be "midwife" to these families. Like me, they wanted help. No doctor in Vegas would attend a home birth or even give prenatal care to women planning a homebirth. There was only one CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife) in town and she delivered only in the hospital.
In the course of time, I became so busy with births that I began to apprentice/teach interested women who had birthed with me. I was attending up to 23 births a month!
I have been featured in various newspapers in Las Vegas, on all the television channels, including PBS & AM/PM Magazine. Home births and midwives are becoming more accepted today than we were 51 years ago when I started. Obstetricians in Las Vegas were becoming concerned about the rapid increase in home births, going from 20 per year to over 60 per year when I first began helping women have better births. The "late" Dr Ravenholt, former head of the Clark County Health Department for 36 years, asked me to meet with several OB's at his office so that I could educate them on what it was that women wanted from their births. This resulted in birthing rooms being established at the hospitals in Las Vegas.
Also, some women were failing to go to the Health Department after their births to register their babies, so Wanda Turpin, the head of Vital Statistics at that time, and I talked about what we should do to get these babies their birth certificates. So, Wanda made up a draft for home births only, which I filled out after each birth and sent to her to register these babies officially. Today, midwives who practice here must register with the Health Department in Carson City & file the birth certificates on-line. Midwifery in Nevada is legal!