Friday, June 05, 2009

What a Great Time to have a Baby

What a Great Time to have a Baby

As I have been talking to Cara and looking at baby things it’s dawned on me, what a great time to be having a baby. We have several friends in the area who have either just had babies or are about to. There is all of this excitement in the air, and come-on… babies. And as an added bonus the in-laws gave us a bunch of baby stuff that they are done with. It really just seems to be the perfect time, and not just a great time for us personally but the best time to have a baby in the history of medical science.

Did you know when we (30 somethings) were born the instance of maternal mortality and infant mortality were both 10 time what they are now, and astoundingly when our parents were born the chance of death during child birth was ANOTHER 10 times more than that. Even more astounding is that these figures do not stop there. Since the dawn of modern medicine child birth has gone from a toss of the 100 sided DnD dice to a relatively safe experience of bringing a new life into the world.

During the past 50 years numerous advancements have been made in child birth that have brought us to this point in time when deaths during childbirths are measured out of 100,000s instead of 1000s. Once one of the prime causes of maternal death, extreme parinatial and postnatal hemoraging, can now be treated by drugs and in extenuating circumstances blood transfusions. Infection once the third leading cause of maternal death is now virtually eliminated thanks to antiseptic delivery rooms, and antibiotics if necessary. Obstructed labor which used to account for 1 death in 1000 births, can often be safely resolved without surgical intervention, and that is just the mothers. The benefits for infants are far too numerous to mention in this forum.

Premature babies have a achieved unparalleled survival rates, even at terms that would have been considered impossible even a few years ago. The understanding and care for these tiny miracles has made leaps and bounds. Moreover, the with adequate preterm care, most premature births can be avoided or delayed until they are closer to term

It is a little scary to talk about problems during pregnancy and birth, but thanks to the constantly improving standard of care it is less scary all the time. It is certainly true that women have been having babies for 100,000 years, but they have really gotten a lot better at it in the last 50.

Another huge leap forward in childbirth in the last 50 years has been the use of prevention and education in the battle against birth defects and other potentially dangerous conditions. One of the most effective and proven means of prevention is the use of a simple inexpensive prenatal vitamin. These have been shown to greatly reduce the occurrence of several types of birth defects.

As new and expectant mothers have had more access to education about food and nutrition, birth weights have steadily increased. With prenatal monitoring through ultrasounds and regular checkups at risk babies can be identified earlier, giving parents more options in their care and treatment than ever before.

In addition mothers also benefit greatly from prenatal care. Once life threatening conditions like pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes can now be diagnosed early and managed effectively so that mothers can still go on to have successful pregnancies, without danger to themselves or their unborn child. As an interesting note these problems were likely not recorded in the above statistics because they would not necessarily present at child birth.

The benifits of basic prenatal care and access to medical care have done so well in the industrailized nations that they have set up programs in developing nations with some tremendous results. Astounding drops in infrant mortality and maternal mortality, thanks to modern medicine.

While the health and welfare of the mother and infant are certainly at the forefront of most parents minds there are some other less tangible changes to the birthing process that have occurred over the last 30 years that have made the process much more enjoyable for the parents, and even in the last 5 years opportunities exist that our mothers could not have dreamed of.

While camping last weekend I had a discussion with my friend Mark who is also pregnant. He asked how involved I planned on being in the delivery. My answer: “Extreamly to overbearingly” we laughed. He was a little more squeamish than I am and was really only interested in holding his wife’s hand. The mere fact that there are choices to be made, however, is a huge leap forward.

There are options available to parents today that were not even considered 30 years ago. The availability of in hospital water birth, private birthing rooms, and the other creature comforts are things that were not considered when I was born. I look forward to being in the delivery room and cutting the cord. I can’t think of anything more beautiful than being with my wife during this important moment in our lives.

However I also understand that sometimes things do not go as you plan and sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. I have done a fair amount of research (disgusting research) on the different types of birthing, and I feel like between Cara and I we will be able to make informed decisions as we go. We would love to have a natural birth. We would love to do it without an epidural. I know no one wants an episiotomy, but the best laid plans of mice and men go often wrong go oft’ astray. It is in these incidences that we can use our ability to adapt and survive like our ancestors before us. If something does happen i do not think our experiance will be any less special, and in the end, if things do not go perfectly, and interventions have to be taken, our baby will not be any less dear to our hearts, any less special, any less loved.