PROVO, Utah — When Katie King’s first child was born, only a few people were allowed to be in the delivery room and the iPhone was just coming out.
When she had her fifth child, Jonathan, on Labor Day this year, the Kings let their parents and siblings know about the birth before announcing it on Facebook. In the following hours, King spoke via FaceTime with her mother, who lives in Florida, drank “Laborade” and had a candlelit celebration meal at Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem following the birth.
“That was so fun,” the Provo mom said.
The modern birthing process has changed in the last 50, and even 10, years as fathers have been allowed to be in delivery rooms, cellphones have gone from being banned in hospitals to embraced as expectant parents livestream or live tweet updates, and hospitals have gone from a prescribed, one-size-fits-all process to adding more and more customization.
“It’s not enough to just go somewhere and have a safe delivery, and everyone tells you how it should go and you go along with that, and everything is fine and you go home,” said Kristy Baker, the director of women’s services at Timpanogos Regional Hospital. “I think we have a much more informed generation growing up and having babies now.”
The internet has allowed expectant parents to know their options, and has also given them different expectations about what to expect from the birthing experience.
For the hospitals, the modern birth experience has been about embracing technology.
“They want to come in, they still want to be able to access Netflix,” Baker said. “They want Wi-Fi, they want to pin where they’re at and tell everyone what hospital they are at.”
Baker has seen the birth customization trend increase in the last five years and really amp up in the last two. Hospitals are becoming flexible with most requests, like playing music, having essential oils, adjusting lighting and being able to get up and walk around. Timpanogos Regional Hospital even has an online quiz that can assign a Spotify birth playlist.
Becki Barratt, director of women and children’s services for Intermountain Healthcare in Utah County, started as a labor and delivery nurse at Utah Valley Hospital in Provo 26 years ago. Back then, she remembers a standardized process that included giving every laboring mom an admission enema and shave.
“That has completely changed into very personalized care within a standard, within a clinical standard,” Barratt said. “You get a lot more variation and personal experience and requests than you used to, all within best clinical practice standards.”
Local hospitals no longer have technical policies regarding how many people, or who, can be in the room when a mother gives birth. Barratt has seen the rooms packed with as many as 24 people coming in, which has included an entire sports team and a patient who had 20 family members with her.
“There is no limit, as long as we can reasonably do what we need to do,” Barratt.
Baker has seen as many as 15 people in one delivery room at time, and heard requests from parents who want to bring home the placenta to plant in the yard.
The customization trend has also led to modern amenities offered at hospitals, which include Wi-Fi and online prenatal classes. At Timpanogos Regional Hospital, nurses now offer flavored ice chips and a rotating menu of slushes for moms in labor, and custom-flavored sodas for after birth with birth-themed names such as Bahama-Mama (Coke or Dr. Pepper with coconut), Kangaroo Kicker (Sprite with coconut or strawberry) and Laborade (lemonade with strawberry or raspberry).
While fathers were once banished to waiting rooms, hospitals now have even seen midwives who allow fathers to gown and glove up to do deliveries with them.
Modern culture has also led to the importance of a baby’s first Facebook post. At Timpanogos Regional Hospital, Baker said the only social media recommendations the hospitals gives to parents is about security and to request for people not to take pictures of an infant if it is compromised. Nurses are commonly offered to take pictures and it’s not uncommon to see parents video chatting in the rooms.
In Provo, Barratt said the hospital requests that parents get an OK from the medical providers in the room before they’re filmed.
All that new technology in the room can be a distraction for dads, but Barratt said that’s nothing new.
“I don’t think it’s any more now than it was before,” Barratt said. “I think the medium has changed. Back then, it was your dad watching ‘RoboCop’ on video. Now it is that they are playing games on their phone.”
Other changes are more medical based, such as promoting breastfeeding and putting an emphasis on skin-to-skin contact. Exams have also been moved into the room so the baby can stay near its parents, and baths are now done in the room as well.
Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldextra.com