By Sharanya Kannan
Pregnancy, a life-altering event, comes with many choices regarding methods, tests and procedures. The methods involved in the childbirth process vary from the ones incorporated in the past. For instance, where there was natural birth at home in the olden times, there are hospitalised deliveries prevalent now. Similarly, there are many areas where pregnancy has seen considerable progress. During pregnancy, parents must discuss any proposed tests, treatments, or interventions with their doctor. Do your research on potential plans of care and treatment options, make informed decisions, and fully participate in decision-making throughout the pregnancy and delivery process.
- Hospital approach
Most children were born at home 100 years ago, all over the world. The introduction of labour pain-relieving anaesthesia, which was exclusively available in hospitals, contributed to the shift of birthing from the home to the hospital. For several reasons, women were hospitalised at the time of labour during the twentieth century. This was because medications, equipment, and medical expertise ensure the safety of the mother and the child. Unlike natural birth, pain medications are available in the hospital while natural birth at home deprived both the mother and the baby of medical care. Women experienced exhaustion, dehydration, infection, bleeding, and even convulsions in the old days. Sedation drugs in modern times help women have a more comfortable delivery.
- Safer pregnancy process
A birthing parent in a developed country can now reasonably expect their health and safety to be the top concern of the birthing experience. This is due to the availability of pain control, NICU, and the support of trained staff. But a century ago, this was not the case. Back then, birthing parents faced childbirth with apprehension because they heard stories involving birthing complications. This caused anxiety among the to-be-birthing woman.
Even with the current technologies, complications still persist. These complications involve premature labour and delivery, umbilical cord, abnormal presentation, uterine rupture, detached placenta, abnormal heart rate, birth injury, failure in labour progression, and post-term pregnancies. All of them lead to cerebral palsy. Fortunately, the risk of these complications can be reduced with prompt detection. Diagnosis of cerebral palsy can be made in a few months or a year after birth. Brain scans like MRI and Cranial ultrasound may follow diagnosis.
- Medical ethics
The century-old well-intentioned “doctor knows what is best” attitude has been replaced with respect for the autonomy of the birthing woman. For instance, severe anaesthesia resulted in physical effects on both the mother and the baby during the 1950s and 60s. The realisation that all women must be informed about and given consent before receiving medical treatment also plays a role in the evolution of medical ethics.
There is quite a stirring debate associated with the moral status of the foetus in modern times. Because of the dependent autonomy of the foetus on the mother, her choices are given an outweighing priority. An example of this would be a pregnant lady’s indulgence in harmful substances. Another example would be the enforcement of insulin if the mother is diabetic. Although disapproving on several moral levels, the weight of decisions for her body falls on the woman herself.
- Age-old approach of home birth
Hospitals weren’t accessible to common people in the olden times. Delivering the baby at home was less of a choice and more of the only option available at the time. It was the norm to give birth in the privacy of your own home. Experienced women mainly conducted natural births at home. Even in today’s modernised age, some people opt for home births to reclaim control over their health, minimise transportation, and compensate for the inadequacy of hospitals. It is a matter of choice and what appeals more to an individual. Physicians, with their medical expertise, have a say in a pregnant woman’s decision. Their recommendations hold medical proficiency and provide a reliable direction in the procedures and scope of treatment. Various advancements have also been made in the home birth method for those who may want to go ahead with it. One of those includes pre-birth training programs where the birthing parents are encouraged to practise relaxation, controlled breathing, hypnosis, and water immersion.