By - Dr. Malpani
Most women are aware of the importance of regular medical care during pregnancy and you should plan to register with a reliable obstetrician as soon as you find out that you are pregnant. The ensuing pre-natal care will then simply be an extension of your pre-pregnancy care. While modern obstetric care can ensure that pregnancy and childbirth are very safe for both mother and baby, unfortunately, today doctors have 'medicalized' pregnancy to such an extent that what is otherwise a normal event has been converted to one that needs rigorous and frequent medical assistance.
Every mother naturally wants a normal baby, and technology can be very useful in reassuring her that all is well. However, it's easy to misuse technology. One particularly disturbing trend stems from the fact that many obstetricians nowadays overuse medical technology; such overuse can often prove detrimental to both the mother and the baby. Common tests that are misused include blood tests for TORCH (Toxoplasmosis, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus; Herpes) infections; ultrasound scans; and foetal monitoring.
Another area of misuse relates to the tests available for screening the baby for a possible birth defect. Many doctors routinely subject their patients to a 'triple test' during the pregnancy to screen for birth defects. While this is an easy test (it's a simple blood test which measures the levels of 3 hormones in the blood) to carry out unfortunately, it has still not been standardized for Indian women. Such a drawback leads to a large number of tests yielding abnormal results, even though the babies are completely normal. An 'abnormal' result creates a lot of anxiety - and then the doctor needs to perform a battery of other tests to confirm that the baby is, in fact, normal to reassure the mother. The second tier of tests can be expensive, and risky as well, because some of them can cause the mother to miscarry. Thus, it is not uncommon for a mother to lose a healthy baby because of a test, which was not really required in the first place!
The foetal monitoring procedure has also been overused over the past few years. While this procedure was initially designed to serve as a tool to monitor the well-being of the foetus and to help reduce the need for medical intervention, today it is often used to justify an LSCS (Caesarean section) in order to forcibly take out a baby 'in foetal distress'! A much simpler alternative would be to opt for 'kick counts', a procedure in which the mother simply keeps track of how often her baby moves in a given time period - a baby which moves actively is sure to be healthy!
Antenatal classes conducted by medical or paramedical professionals can be very helpful. Here, you not only to learn a lot about pregnancy and childbirth, but also you get an opportunity to interact with other women in various stages of their pregnancy. The friendships developed during this period can be very supportive and helpful!