Know the expression ‘the good old days’? Moms know a lot more about childbirth and pregnancy than they did just a few decades ago. Childbirth has been around as long as mammals have. While farm animals and those in the wild probably haven’t seen much change in how they react, and are treated, when they are “with child”, modern medicine and an information-based society has forever changed the way we look at pregnancy.
Social media, helicopter parenting, and mom shaming have taken super mom pressures to the max. This has changed the way that women approach their pregnancies, as well as how they raise their children. Today a picture of a mom on Instagram eating the “wrong” food could lead to a ton of backlash.
Back in the 1990’s moms rocked more grunge-inspired flannels than they did actual maternity wear. TV moms were polar opposite mixes of Rosanne to Vivian Banks, Debra Barone to Peg Bundy. They were all appreciated for their genuine attitude, and the way that they let their own guts dictate their parenting and pregnancy decisions. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to 15 things that pregnant moms did that are no longer acceptable today.
15 Bronzed The Baby Body
Tanning was all the rage in the 1990’s. Although we all knew the slimming effect of a nice ‘healthy’ tan, we also knew tanning could lead to skin cancer. Just the same in the 1990’s hitting a tanning salon, or lathering on some oil at the beach was fairly common. To an expectant mother, one who may already be a little self-conscious of her changing body thanks to pregnancy, a tan could seem like the perfect way to look a little more toned. Here’s the thing, the hormones associated with pregnancy make us even more sensitive to the sun’s dangerous UV rays, and result in hives, heat rashes, overheating, dehydration, or cholasma (aka mother’s mask) so tanning while expecting is particularly dangerous.
14 Drank Dark Brew For Iron
Some people still believe this one. I remember during the St. Patrick’s Day when I was expecting and craving a pint of Guinness (and had a pint of Root Beer instead) being told that most nurses will let mom bring Guinness or Stout beer into the hospital because of its high iron content. At one point in time, pregnant women were even prescribed stout, since an expectant mother needs 50 percent more iron than usual each day. While stout contains folate and vitamin B, all good things, the iron thing is just a myth. In fact, a 2002 research paper showed that the iron content in Guinness is the same as eating “15 garden peas”. While we’d like this myth to be true, it just isn’t.
13 Hid The Baby Bump Under Maternity Clothes
Modern fashion knows what big business maternity fashion is as moms embrace and show off their baby bumps. Back in the 1990’s maternity wear had one simple rule: conceal, conceal, conceal, only it just left mom looking like she was wearing a sheet. Expectant moms had little to no choice over dowdy maternity clothing that often looked quite childish and was often adorned with bows. Moms had limited choices of loose fitted smock tops and trapeze style dresses that made them look enormous. Ever wonder why your mother looked like she was wearing a mumu in any photo where she’s pregnant? Because that was the only thing to wear. Today, thankfully, moms can wear maternity jeans, form fitting tops and dresses, and even maternity bikinis if so inclined.
12 Had No Input On The Birthing Plan
Modern moms are very educated on the birth process and have active input on their birth plan, but this wasn’t always the case. As recently as the 1990’s moms had very little say in how their delivery would happen and were at the mercy of their doctor. These births often involved episiotomies, and although midwives practiced in the 1990’s very few people opted for a midwife birth. This was mostly because in many places at the time, midwifery was an unregulated practice, and there was a social stigma attached to going to a midwife - basically it made mom a hippie. While labour rarely follows the plan mom sets out, at least mom can be involved in decisions surrounding her support team and pain relief.
11 Car Seats? What Car Seats?
The history of car seats has been a bumpy ride from their invention to when parents actually started using them to protect their children. While car seats first became mandatory in the late 1970’s to late 1980’s in North America, even as late as the late 1980’s only 80 percent of parents were using them for children. Today many new parents complete extensive research on the type of car seat that they use and have a Child Passenger Technician inspect the seat to make sure that it is installed safely. The technician program wasn’t even implemented until 1997. Odds are modern moms would be calling the authorities on a lot of other parents from the past thanks to their lax approach to car safety.
10 Ate Sushi
With globalization, international food at our fingertips has been a luxury that most of us don’t think twice about. That being said, the introduction of items to our diets like sushi, probably weren’t on most people’s radar as a potential danger to baby. Today pregnant moms are told not to eat any raw fish including sushi, sashimi, and other fishes because of concerns around listeria that can make mom and baby ill. Freezing or cooking the fish will make it safe to eat by killing the parasites. Back in the 1990’s there wasn’t a lot of information available to moms on what to eat and not to eat during their pregnancies. A recent article in the New York Times, pointed out that constant food finger wagging from doctors, friends, and the Internet make modern pregnant women a victim of "pregnancy paranoia."
9 Forget Genetic Screening
In the 1990’s there was very little known about baby and their future health care while they were still in mom’s uterus. Today parents have the choice to complete genetic screening during their pregnancy to check for any abnormalities that might be of concern. These tests are normally completed sometime between week 11 and 17 of pregnancy. Another advance in terms of IVF is known as pre-implantation genetic screening, which faces the challenge that the older a woman is the more likely her eggs will have abnormal chromosomes which can cause miscarriages. Doctors are now able to take one cell from each embryo and analyze it to ensure that only the embryos with a normal number of chromosomes are used in IVF.
8 Too Posh To Push
Back in 1970 only five percent of American children were born via C-section. By 1985 the World Health Organization (WHO) began to work to determine an optimal rate of C-sections by reviewing percentages of pregnancies that had complications, and that would be best suited for a C-Section. The ideal rate of c-section was determined to be 15 percent. They have since reviewed this optimum rate in 2009 as the number of births by C-section have skyrocketed in recent years, currently sitting at around 30 percent of American births. WHO has since gone on record saying, “the optimum rate is unknown, both very low and very high rates of caesarean section can be dangerous.” Maternal health, age, and weight have all increased in recent years, which has also led to an increase in modern C-section births.
7 Puffed While Pregnant
People are well aware that smoking and pregnancy can lead to a low birth weight and other health problems in pregnancy, but in the 1990’s a significant number of mothers still smoked. In the past some doctors even encouraged pregnant moms to cut down instead of quitting, because they believed the stress of quitting smoking could be more damaging for baby and mom than the smoking itself. Data gathered for pregnant women in the United States between 1990 and 1999 revealed that 12.3 percent, more than one in ten, expectant mothers were smoking during pregnancy. Just take a minute to think about how common that is! By 2016, that number had dropped significantly to one in 14 women, roughly seven percent of expectant moms.
6 Hired That 11-Year-Old Sitter
Back in the 1990’s parents would hire just about anyone to take care of their newborn baby, including their 11 year old neighbour who had never looked after kids before. No one was interviewing kids to sit while they were still pregnant, the hiring process was simply a phone call at the recommendation of a friend or a neighbour. Parents didn’t have to shell out big bucks for sitters, paying their underage “employees” anywhere from $3 to $8 an hour. Today parents hire older, experienced sitters who have taken babysitter classes, CPR classes, and provide reference lists as long as phone books. Parents today also generally pay more cash for their sitter’s time with most sitters earning between $10 and $25 dollars an hour, depending on their experience, the number of kids, and the city they live in.
5 The Fear Of Doing It Alone
It wasn’t until the 1990’s that many charitable organizations, like the Christian Family Concern, changed their approach to keeping single and young unwed mothers with their children, and gave up adoption services in favour of supporting these moms. Just the same there was a lot of stigma attached to single parenting. Today thanks to a change in attitude more and more parents are able to go it alone. Work options like telecommuting allow parents to both work and parent. Previously being a single parent was a misfortune, today many parents actively decide to go it alone, not waiting to find the perfect partner before starting their family. Modern single parent, Loretta Merritt says, “These days when you say I choose to become a single mother, people understand; they often even know someone else who’s done it.”
4 No Ultrasound Image In The Baby Book
A woman I know, who gave birth in the 1990’s, didn’t find out that she was carrying twins until three weeks before her due date, because ultrasound technology wasn’t nearly as common as it is today. Today most women get to see their babies for the first time at around four months via ultrasound. Ultrasound technology has only existed since 1956, with perfected use in the 1970’s in most modern hospitals. It wasn’t until the end of the 20th century that ultrasound technology became a routine part of maternity care. Ultrasound technology has always been well received with most women excited to see their baby and get a keepsake photograph, whereas just a few decades ago it might not have even been an option.
3 Motherhood First, Career Second
Young women having children still account for around 85 percent of all American births, however the number of birth rates for women over the age of 35 have skyrocketed over the past 20 years. This change has been driven by women pursuing their careers as well as education, which sometimes means meeting their partner later in life, in addition to putting off parenthood into their mid to late thirties. Thanks to reliable birth control and scientific advances of IVF, later parenthood becomes a more viable option each year. In the United States between the 1970’s and today the mean age of most mothers increased by nearly three years from 24.6 all the way to 27.2, and that number continues to rise.
2 Teenage Triumphs
Education of kids is what caused a dramatic decrease in teen pregnancy throughout the 1990’s. With better education, and a focus on the correct way to use contraceptives teens were able to better prevent pregnancies. Unfortunately, in modern times schools have geared sexual education back towards 'abstinence only until marriage programs', instead of discussing the benefits of contraception. The result of this curriculum change is in the numbers. It’s been reported recently, “For the first time in more than a decade, the nation’s teen pregnancy rate rose 3% in 2006, reflecting increases in teen birth and abortion rates of 4% and 1%, respectively.” It looks like we could learn something from the educational systems of the 1990’s to help our children make smart and informed decisions.
1 Adoption Was The Only Option For Older Parents
IVF procedures have changed the way we look at pregnancy, something that just wasn’t possible in the 1990s. If you couldn’t have kids you just adopted or, if that wasn’t an option, ended up living your life without kids. Today many would ask if mom tried IVF before adopting, even though it is a lengthy and costly procedure. IVF works for many and every day doctors and scientists are testing many technologies to help make getting pregnant easier for everyone, even older mothers, by building on IVF. Other technologies include harvesting a woman’s eggs when she’s younger, to use when she’s ready to start a family, to get around some of the challenges of a pregnancy later in life.