Babies - Modern vs. Historical

Having a baby in modern times has become less risky for mother and child since ancient and historical times. Advancements in scientific research and medicine have provided care options for conditions that would have ended in death for the baby, or the mother, or both.

Breech Birth Risks

In ancient times a baby that was in breech position when labor began would often caused death to the mother. Sometimes the child could be saved, but blood loss and the strain of a difficult labor increased the possibility of death in the new mother. Women died in childbirth if the infant was trapped in the birth canal or if there was unstoppable bleeding after the delivery.

Nowadays, baby images in the form of ultrasounds let medical professionals know for certainty the position of the baby. Often the position can be determined by a skilled practitioner by feel, but an ultrasound can give a better idea as to whether or not the baby can be manipulated into the head down position. In the 21st century, a c-section is often scheduled if a baby is in the breech position. In the 1800s there was no choice but to deliver the baby feet first. The risks were high including irreparable tearing in the mother which could lead to life-threatening infections or excessive bleeding. It could also end in the infant's since there was the chance that the child's oxygen supply would be cut off during the delivery and the baby would die.

Baby Information: Modern Infant Mortality Rates

Infant mortality rates are at an all time low especially in the developed world. There's such a high rate of confidence in the likelihood of survival of mother and child that it's common for women to have baby showers at some point in the third trimester of pregnancy instead of waiting for the infant to be born.

Statistics from 2009 from the World Bank showed that infant mortality in the United States was 6.8 per 1,000 live births. Canada had 5.3 and the United Kingdom had 4.6. Sierra Leon had a one of the world's highest rates of infant death at 112.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s infant mortality rates were on average 100 per 1,000 live births with some European countries like Russia and Germany reaching rates as high as 250 deaths per 1,000 live births. This is according to the report, The Decline of Infant Mortality in Europe 1800 to 1850 edited by Carlo A. Corsini and Pier Paalo Viazzo. Wealth did not make any family immune to infant mortality, according to the report. Agricultural laborers tended to have the lowest infant mortality rate up until the early 1900s.

Parenting Attitudes 1800s vs. Today

Today children tend to be the focus of many couples lives. Babies pictures are taken from a young age and often done repeatedly throughout the first year of a child's life. This wasn't the case in the 1800s since the process of getting a picture taken was so complicated and expensive. Old style photography required the individual to sit still for an extended period of time which could be a challenge for a parent to do with an active baby.

The focus and purpose of babies names has changed too. In the 1800s it was more common for names with family ties or religious significance to be chosen. Today some modern parents choose the most unique names possible to reduce the chance of their children having the same name as dozens of their peers when they grow older.


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