THE CONCEPT OF PREGNANCY HAS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS. WHAT USED TO BE INAPPROPRIATE, SUCH AS ALLOWING YOURSELF TO BE SEEN IN THE ADVANCED STAGES OF PREGNANCY, IS NOW A LOVELY SIGHT TO BEHOLD. PREGNANCY IS A MIRACLE, AND FOR OBSTETRICIANS, IT IS CELEBRATED WITH EVERY NEW BIRTH.
By Jose S. Bendayan M.D.
Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful and meaningful moments in a woman’s life. As I always say, it’s not a disease; it’s not a condition; it is just a state, a beautiful state, which should not impede or affect day-to-day life. Once my patients and their close relatives understand this, it makes pregnancy more enjoyable and peaceful, of course as long as it’s not considered a high-risk pregnancy, at which point some restrictions will be advised to the mother-to-be.
Pregnancy is not the time to begin new, rigorous exercise regimes such as gymnastics or hot yoga, as more physically strenuous activity can be dangerous for both mom and baby. But, that being said, it doesn’t mean that you need to completely abandon your daily routine and exercise just because you’re pregnant, except of course if the routine involves activity that may be harmful to you or your baby. The female body is meant to adapt and become accustomed to the changes that come with a pregnancy, and so the transitions on a day-to-day basis will be relatively seamless.
Nowadays, there are extremely efficient and advanced methods used to monitor pregnancies, with 3D and 4D ultrasounds being the most popular. Parents and family members are amazed at how realistic the baby looks in the image thanks to revolutionary technology. While many think of ultrasounds as merely high-tech and cool contraptions that provide images of babies in-utero, for us doctors, ultrasounds are crucial in assisting us in evaluating appropriate fetal growth, amniotic fluid, and fetal well being.
Previously, women were “confined” during their last months of pregnancy, as it was not fashionable to be seen in public at such advanced stages. Today, women proudly flaunt their growing bellies in outfits that follow the latest fashion trends. Pregnant women can work until the last days of their pregnancy, as per their own decision or lifestyle circumstances, and within their doctor’s recommendations.
The miracle of birth is still a mystery to me, even though I have seen thousands of babies being born throughout my years as an obstetrician. I thank Hashem that I’m still in awe of this miracle; I never take it for granted, and each time still feels as special as the first.
In English, it’s called “giving birth,” in Spanish, dar a luz, which literally translates to “give to light.” In Hebrew, laledet, comes from the root ledah, which implies that the woman gives light rather than birth, and to me, it’s a beautiful way to describe this amazing moment in which women, for a brief period of time, are given the privilege of being true creators and makers of light.
Louise Joy Brown, born in 1978, was the first human born after conception via in-vitro fertilization. The world came to know her as the first “test-tube baby.” This was a turning point in the history of Assisted Reproductive Technology or ART. Couples suffering from infertility were treated by eager doctors who could scientifically produce embryos outside of the woman’s body, and then implant the embryo inside the uterus, and help maintain the pregnancy with the use of hormones to carry it through. It wasn’t until around 30 years later that Dr. Robert Edwards, who developed this method along with Dr. Patrick Steptoe, received the recognition of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physiology of Medicine for such a monumental and life changing invention.
The beauty of birth and life is a gift that we receive every day. We don’t understand how miraculous it is until we witness it firsthand. I am lucky to do so daily, whether it be helping a mom hear her baby’s heartbeat, placing a newborn baby in the arms of a proud grandfather, or simply seeing the joyful and grateful expressions on the faces of those mothers, fathers and families that I have the pleasure of sharing this miraculous experience with. I am proud and humbled to be pursuing my dream profession and have the opportunity to impact the lives of so many. For this, I am eternally thankful.