The Last Word

Technology, attitudes improve birth experience

New types of pain relief, more education, and extra help when mom and baby get home are all innovations that combine to give women an improved birthing experience, according to an article in the October 1998 Redbook.

A key development includes more comfortable labor. New types of anesthetics along with tension-reducing techniques have taken some of the pain out of labor. These comfort-producing techniques include lighter epidurals, massage, hypnosis, underwater births, acupuncture, and birthing balls. Perinatal care coordinators who handle patients’ requests and help with the hospital paperwork and doulas who provide postpartum support as well as labor support are also key to a more pleasant birthing experience.

Ten lies about breast cancer that some doctors still say to their patients are outlined in the October issue of Ladies Home Journal. Any woman who hears these comments from her doctor should press for more information. Two of the lies presented are:

Lie: "You’re too young for breast cancer."

Fact: It is estimated that 8,200 American women ages 39 and younger will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. Breast exams should begin at age 20, and mammograms should be performed annually from age 40.

Lie: "You don’t have a family history of breast cancer so you’re not at risk."

Fact: Hereditary breast cancer accounts for only 5% to 10% of cases. In the other 90 to 95%, cells become cancerous spontaneously,, with no known cause.