They were called the 12.12.12 babies. Some of them came into this world on Wednesday only because their time was due. But some others were rushed in because the day was seen as special. Hospitals in Coimbatore, including multi-speciality centres in the city, saw a host of requests from expectant mothers that they should be delivered of their babies on Wednesday, so that the children would grow up to be proud of their unique date of birth.
Two major hospitals confirmed nearly 15 Caesarean sections since early Wednesday. All these were requested for by the couples expecting the child. One of the hospitals said a woman resisted delivery on Tuesday, when it was suggested that she take a labour inducing injection. She insisted on waiting for a day as was scheduled for Caesarean section on Wednesday. Hospital sources said she won because she did not develop labour at all though it was her due date.
There was no superstition involved in the choice of the date. Reactions from doctors were: “unethical”, “medically unwarranted” and “it is like going in for a fancy registration number for one’s vehicle”. Hospitals in this region normally saw a deluge of requests for Caesarean sections on Vinayaka Chathurthi, claiming that it was a very auspicious day for children to be born. But, the choice of 12.12.12 was clearly out of fancy for a unique date of birth.
Resident Medical Officer of Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH) P. Sivaprakasam said nine normal deliveries and three Caesarean sections were done at the hospital on Wednesday. “Six male and female children were born out of both normal and Caesarean sections. But, all the three Caesareans were medically warranted. We do not entertain requests to delay or advance deliveries on the basis of superstitions or to time these with fancy dates,” he said. Former Director of Medical Education and former Dean of CMCH T.P. Kalaniti said: “It is unethical to accept such requests and medically unwarranted to put a woman through a Caesarean section”.
Warning of risks of premature delivery, Senior Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Kovai Medical Center and Hospital Athima Pathak said prolonging the delivery also could prove disastrous.
Pushing delivery beyond the due date can lead to foetal distress. The foetus would pass its first stool (called meconium) while in the womb, which should normally happen soon after delivery. Meconium could mix with fluid in the mother’s abdomen and the child would aspirate it into its lungs and develop meconium pneumonitis – the contaminated fluid causes respiratory problems. In some extreme cases, and quite rarely at that, too much of foetal distress could cause cerebral palsy, she said. As for the mother, prolonging delivery would prove extremely dangerous if she had high blood pressure, Dr. Pathak said, indicating that doctors try to educate expectant mothers and relatives on this, but with very little success.