The other day as I was surfing I saw a message, "What were you doing today, 10 years ago, blog it." I couldn't remember what I was doing 10 years ago, on that day. But I remember very well what I was doing 34 years ago, today.
I became a proud mother of our first child today, 34 years ago. As I had written earlier, there was no provision those days to plan time and star of the baby beforehand. And, hold your breath; we were not packing our bags to go to a sophisticated hospital to have the baby. I was going to have the baby in our ancestral home some 25 miles away from any hospital with some trained obstetricians. To this day, this first child of ours (who is a doctor today) shudders when I say, he and his younger brother were born in our ancestral home with the help of only a trained midwife. He says what all things could have gone wrong. He asks my mom, how could she take such bold decision. But, in those days, that was the normal practice in our village or in any village for that matter. All of my siblings, my cousins and my sister's two children were all born in that house. Believe me; most of the childbirths were normal without any problems. There were the village elders to help the midwife around and in very odd cases the doctor from 25 miles away was summoned.
By far, the children born were healthy, did not need any immediate medical assistance and grew up healthy. There were no antibiotic shots to be given immediately after birth. They did not catch any serious infections. The mother and child were taken care of very meticulously, given oil massages, given plenty of rest and healthy food to eat. Most importantly, the child was kept away from all outsiders for at least 11 days, only very near and dear were allowed after 11 days and others only after 28 days. Nobody except the mother and the help (there was one maid on duty to take care of the mother and baby) even touched the baby. That was the quarantine, they called it by another name, "valamai," i.e., the mother and baby were not to be touched for 11 days. The mother and baby stayed in a semi dark room away from the hustle and bustle of the house (there used to be a lot of it in a village house in those days). Even the other members of the house did not visit any social places, because of valamai. Thus, they ensured that no infection was brought in. Even after 11 days, only the baby was shown to the visitors, the mother was not to come out of her confinement except for her bath. Only after 21 days, was the mother allowed to come and eat in the kitchen (those days kitchen was the dining room). Only on the 28th day, the other members of the community were invited to see the baby. There was a ceremony of laying the baby in the cradle. All were invited and given sweets. The mother was just allowed to come and put the baby in the cradle. The mother was given 5 months adequate bed rest and nutritious food and ayurvedic massages and potions that at the end of the 5 months she was fully rejuvenated and was once again ready for the busy life. She never had any back aches nor did she have any protruding belly (no "ab" exercises those days). Plenty of rest and a healthy and nutritious diet. The children were also healthy and ate well.
Compared to those days, these days children born in sophisticated hospitals get all sorts of infections and are in need of many medical procedures, sometimes from the day one. One may argue that the infant mortality today is very low but this is a point to be debated with a lot of other data.