Just more than 100 years ago, a pregnant woman had a higher chance of dying during childbirth. A child had a more significant chance of being stillborn or succumbing to illness during the first year of their life. For couples unable to conceive, there was little or nothing that could be done.
In a relatively short time, significant advances can ensure that mothers and babies have the best possible chances of long, healthy lives.
In 1914, vaccination of babies became customary. The first vaccine which was developed by British doctor Edward Jenner in 1796 and all but eliminated smallpox. This disease was often fatal in infants. The pertussis vaccine was released in 1914.
Routine vaccinations in children have massively reduced incidences of diseases like whooping cough, polio, measles, and chickenpox. Most recently, girls aged ten are vaccinated against HPV which can lead to cervical cancer.
Experts regard immunization as the greatest medical achievement of the 20th century. While there is a lot of controversy around vaccinations today, medical professionals still recommend them as best practice for the protection of young children.
For women who have fertility problems, there is help available today. They have access to in-vitro fertilization which allows them to have biological children. Hormone treatments allow doctors to harvest eggs from a woman’s ovaries. The eggs are fertilized with the father’s sperm in a laboratory and placed in the uterus.
Some of the best IVF clinics in the world are in the U.S, although many other countries boast first-rate service and success rates. IVF treatment is still expensive, and it isn’t always successful on the first try. However, there are many parents today who have IVF to thank for their children.
Described by most women as the most intense pain they’ve ever experienced, labor has become less of an ordeal. Women have access to medications to help them get through labor. Measures are also in place to make sure the baby is coping with the birthing process. The most significant developments include:
The insertion of a needle into the spine that administers painkillers can ease the pain in the final stages of labor.
During labor, the baby’s heartbeat is monitored so that midwives and doctors can tell if the baby is going into distress. They can then act accordingly to ensure the baby is born healthy.
The ultrasound scan is one of the best advancements in taking care of mothers and their babies. It allows for the early detection of problems in the pregnancy for both mother and child.
For many parents, ultrasound provides a chance to watch the baby grow and develop from the time of conception. Many fathers have felt more involved in their partners’ pregnancy because they can experience some part of the pregnancy through the ultrasound.
- Neonatal care
A premature baby born 100 years ago had little chance of survival. Premature babies often have underdeveloped lungs and cannot breathe on their own. They are also unable to suckle which makes conventional feeding methods impossible. Babies who were born with complications such as heart defects also had little chance of survival.
Today, premature babies and those born with health complications are treated in a neonatal intensive care facility (NICU). There they can be fed intravenously, and a ventilator can aid their breathing.
Since doctors can use the ultrasound to determine many health issues ahead of the birth, a treatment plan is devised before the delivery, which often includes surgery and a stay in the NICU.