At a birthday party, over coffee and a slice of deliciously full-of-calories dulce de leche chocolate cake, I listened in on the animated conversation between young mothers and mothers-to-be.
A few more seasoned moms were also at the table and offered colorful horror stories about their own experiences. I looked at my granddaughter, who the next day was officially entering her 40th week, and hoped she wasn’t spooked.
I thought about my own five trips to the delivery room. Unless my memory now fails me, I think I had a pretty easy time, twins and all.
One senior lady told my granddaughter she should walk a lot. And then someone said that walking was indeed good for everyone but that there is no documented proof that it helps ease the birthing process.
An old myth goes out the window!
Then the woman beside me was ready to challenge the sonogram that showed a baby girl. I shushed her. She quietly argued that the shape of my granddaughter’s belly should be round, but it was pointed which, she declared, is typical of boy babies.
Someone did the Chinese numbers formula and got a “girl” result in agreement with the ultrasound. I was waiting for someone to produce the age-old “ring on a string” test. But I was the only one there old enough to know about that.
I took a quick look at our soon-to-be-mommy. She was rolling her eyes and looked rather amused.
I marvel at the many options women can choose from to have their babies safely and comfortably, that were unheard of in my time.
No, we didn’t boil water or tear bed sheets to prepare for a birth and, yes, we had hospitals. And I remember a twilight mask that made you feel it was happening to someone else.
But I knew nothing about the Alexander Technique that suggests that the mother may be better off standing or sitting during labor. I can’t imagine that.
The Bradley way seeks to minimize the use of drugs and also encourages different positions.
Hypnosis has been recommended.
My first brush with Lamaze was 36 years ago with the birth of my first grandson. I attended classes with my daughter and we stashed goodies in a bag for D-Day. We had mirrors, tennis balls, fans and lollipops. We learned how to huff and puff during contractions. But it was all for naught! She had a C-section. I gave the props away.
Some swear that having a baby in a tub of warm water is marvelous. Really?
The all-time favorite is an epidural injection to block nerve impulses and decrease feeling in the lower half of the body.
We didn’t know then about harvesting stem cells from the umbilical cord. At birth, once it is cut, the doctor inserts a needle to extract blood that is quickly processed at a lab to capture the maximum yield of stem cells. These are stored at below -170ºC. Cells are also gathered from the cord tissue and may one day be used to treat diseases. Amazing!
We did not have ultrasound imaging to know the gender or show the early facial features of the child. No guessing game, no surprise. I miss that.
We didn’t worry about the safety of cribs and knew zilch about car seats. How about that new state-of-the-art breast pump? And then there’s Google.
We had “Baby and Child Care,” a bestseller by Dr. Benjamin Spock to teach us about hiccups and colic. His core message: “Don’t be afraid to trust your own common sense.” I agree.
The arrival of a baby is a joyful event. Yes there is pain. Carol Burnett once described labor—“like pulling your lower lip over your head.” Not funny.
But did you know that this excruciating experience releases oxytoxins, the love hormone, and endorphins that help calm and heal the mother?
Although some couples still worry about how their relationship will survive after the baby comes, they are undoubtedly better equipped to be hands-on moms and dads.
Most of them face the new challenge with boldness and excitement and go to great lengths to prepare themselves and their homes for the baby.
They diligently make sure they know where every electrical socket is located; childproof the cabinets, chairs, cribs, read all there is to know about car seats, and make sure the paint for the nursery is water-based, nontoxic and safe for the baby to inhale or ingest. They are totally involved.
Style of the times
I remember our maternity outfits back in the day. Dresses like tents, loose blouses, skirts cut narrow and with a comfortable hole to make room for the tummy. It was not good form to accentuate the protruding belly. Don’t ask me why.
I remember gasping in shock when Demi Moore posed very pregnant and butt naked. That was in 1991.
Today women wear tight fitting clothes, figure-hugging sweaters and display their bulging bare baby bumps over skimpy bikinis or tight jeans all over social media. Nobody seems to mind!
I guess each woman celebrates as she pleases. It is her special time after all.
Like Winnie the Pooh says: “A grand adventure is about to begin!”
PS: As of Nov. 2nd I have six great-grands, going on eight. I am blessed. Welcome Nataleia Martine!