Has technology made life more complicated for expectant women?

Prenatal testing and its implications — or technology and its complications? An old-timer wonders if technology has only added to the worries of pregnancy.

BC: Hi, where were you all of yesterday?

AD: At the hospital. I had accompanied my cousin for her scan. She's expecting and is due in a few months.

BC: But she had gone for a scan last week.

AD: That was a Doppler test.

BC: And what about the one a few weeks before that?

AD: That was the NT Scan, to check for Down's Syndrome.

BC: No, the one after that.

AD: Must have been the Anatomy Ultrasound Scan.

BC: I can't believe it — so many tests.

AD: Look, it helps in…

BC: I know a couple that had a nightmare with these tests. The baby was diagnosed with a prominent lateral ventricle in the fifth month of pregnancy.

AD: And…?

BC: Well, they were asked to wait and watch, in case the lateral ventricle's growth attained normalcy on its own. They went through a harrowing time.

AD: Look, at least they knew about it.

BC: Knowing something and not being able to do anything about it can make one feel so helpless. How can it be that technology has evolved enough to spot an anomaly, but not enough to cure it?

AD: Ah, so technology is to blame for Nature's mysterious ways. Today, technology can help detect a host of complications that may not have been possible in your generation, like Spina bifida, Down's syndrome, anencephaly or hydrocephalus.

BC: Back then, we were clueless about these. Besides, the kids that were born in ignorance didn't seem the worse for it.

AD: Why do you think couples had so many children back then? Our infant mortality rate was so high.

BC: But things were simpler in those days. All one needed was a doctor or a midwife. Today, you need a team of radiologists, sonologists, gynaecologists, anaesthetists and paediatricians for a baby to be born.

AD: When you have the resources, why not use them? It surely beats having a semi-literate midwife assisting childbirth.

BC: But there are hardships as well. The expectant mother is made to go through so many scans to monitor her baby. Think of the foetus being exposed to the harmful radiation, not to mention the trauma that the mother goes through, sitting there for hours, week after week, after drinking gallons of water, because the scans need to be carried out on a full bladder.

AD: There have also been cases where technology has helped cure.

BC: I prefer the good old times with lesser technology — life seemed pretty uncomplicated back then. Women would go to the doctor once to confirm their pregnancy and then back again for delivery. Today, the whole thing is so intimidating that couples can never enjoy a pregnancy. It's about running from the doctor to the lab and the scan centre all the time. And the tests — Nuchal Translucency, Chorionic Villi testing, Amniocentesis... In fact, the girl whose baby had a prominent lateral ventricle claimed that her dad had wanted her to become a doctor, which she never fulfilled. But now, thanks to her pregnancy, she says that she is almost there.

AD: So what happened to the baby?

BC: Thankfully, everything turned out fine. It was a baby girl — and I’m sure that she will turn out to be quite photogenic.

AD: How are you so sure?

BC: Think of all those 2d, 3d and 4d images taken of her — she sure must have had a lot of practice posing for them.