Come A Long Way, Baby: How Childbirth & Prenatal Care Have Changed
Doula? Epidural? Skin-to-skin? Seventy years ago, these terms would have
meant nothing to pregnant women and their medical professionals. Thanks
to new technologies, new research and new attitudes, prenatal care and
childbirth have changed a great deal over the last seven decades. Today,
a woman can learn that she’s pregnant just weeks after conception;
find out her baby’s sex before the baby is born; choose from a range
of birthing styles and labor support; and feel assured by the advanced
technology available should complications arise or a medical intervention
be necessary. Now routine, these elements of maternal care were once groundbreaking.
CaroMont Health is proud to help lead the way for better maternal care,
better births and better outcomes in our region. From family-centered
birthing suites to full postnatal support, our commitment to improving
care for moms and babies keeps advancing. In honor of our 70th anniversary, and the thousands of healthy babies born under our care since
1946, we thought it’d be fun to take a look at how far national
care has come.
- From rabbits to double lines.
For centuries, women and their care providers relied on physical symptoms
alone to confirm a pregnancy. In the 1930s, researchers discovered that
if they injected rabbits with a woman’s urine, changes in the rabbit’s
ovaries could be detected if the woman were pregnant. Although fairly
accurate, this test was expensive and complicated, so pregnancy testing
remained rare. The modern test as we know it, which detects the presence
of hCG (the “pregnancy” hormone), wasn’t reliable until
the early 1970s, and the home pregnancy test first hit the market in 1977.
Now, you can test for pregnancy at home several days
before a missed period and get results! Of course, if you test positive, we recommend visiting
one of our practices to confirm the results and start prenatal care.
From imagining to seeing.
Throughout the ages, so much of pregnancy has been a guessing game. Women
have wondered about their baby’s sex, size and due date. They wondered
if the pregnancy would progress normally, and if their child would have
any abnormalities or complications. The invention of the ultrasound, along
with other key fetal diagnostic or screening tools, has illuminated a
once-mysterious process. Although invented in the 1950s in Scotland, the
ultrasound was not widely used for prenatal care in America until the
1970s. In addition to determining the baby’s sex, the fetal ultrasound
can provide critical information about the baby’s growth in utero,
as well as screen for abnormalities or defects that may need to be addressed.
Actually witnessing your baby move is a pretty powerful moment, too—and
black-and-white ultrasound photos have become a pregnancy milestone for
From tragedy to triumph.
Babies born premature, before 37 weeks, often develop respiratory distress
syndrome (RDS). Before the 1990s, this was terrible news for parents,
as premature babies’ lungs were simply not developed enough to survive.
Building on groundbreaking research first discovered in the 1950s, scientists
created the first synthetic surfactants in the 1990s. This substance prevented
RDS, giving premature babies a chance to survive while their lungs kept
developing. The mortality rate from RDS has remarkably dropped from 90
percent to less than 5 percent today. Now, premature babies can be treated
in CaroMont Health’s level III neonatal intensive care unit while
they grow strong enough to go home.
Recent research has demonstrated the importance of the mother’s
birth experience in establishing a bond with her child, setting a good
foundation for the baby’s development and improving the mother’s
mental health postpartum. That’s why CaroMont is passionate about
providing the best family-centered care that supports mom, baby and the
rest of the family as they welcome a new life into the world. We opened
The Birthplace, the largest single-room maternity unit in the nation,
in 2004, and have been part of thousands of inspiring birth experiences
since. If you’d like to learn more about CaroMont, The BirthPlace
or our family-centered birth philosophy,