"IVF success rates have doubled during the past 10 years, giving new hope to couples," says Dr. Mark P. Leondires, medical director for the Center for Advanced Reproductive Medicine in Connecticut. "In addition, the in-vitro technique of intracytoplasmic sperm injection has allowed many couples with severe male factor infertility to conceive. These couples never would have had a chance 10 years ago."
Designers have discovered what we knew all along: Pregnant women look radiant and need the clothes to match. "The most significant headway maternity fashions have made is treating the expectant mother as a woman and not just a body toting a baby," says Rachel Weingarten, a noted beauty and trends expert. "Modern maternity fashions are chic, made of comfortable materials, and designed to suit active and corporate lifestyles."
"Today's classes include a multitude of choices for today's emerging new families," says Jude Aluce, a parent education at St. John's Health Center in California. Attending a six-week course at a hospital used to be the norm. Now small groups and private one- to three-week sessions are available. The variety of prenatal classes offered helps participants understand the physical, medical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of childbirth.
If you think you are relegated to your mother's childbearing experience, think again. "Childbirth options include birthing in a hospital, birthing center, or a home setting," says Aluce. "Some facilities may even offer a laboring woman the option of birthing the baby while in a tub of water, also commonly referred to as a water birth."
"Men have evolved as society has evolved," says Dr. Erika Karres, author of Make Your Kids Smarter. "Dads are feeding and changing the baby, shopping with the baby, taking over chores, and so much more. They've heard of postpartum depression and other pitfalls, so they're more aware of what moms can go through and what moms need. This really is the best time to have a baby."
"Women have so many options today," says Christine D'Amico, author of The Pregnant Woman's Companion. "You are respected if you stay home full time or if you choose to work full time. I don't feel trapped by either role, and that is very freeing. Now moms can choose what is best for them and their families." And more employers are offering flexible hours, the ability to work from home, and job sharing.
The Internet offers effortless shopping, a library of information, and a forum for support. Such offerings are a boon to new moms and dads, relieving stress, fear, or a day's worth of shopping with only a few clicks. "The Internet has put the world at your fingertips, and for a busy mom that is a huge benefit," D'Amico says.
With just a glance, one can find strollers for rent at malls, high chairs at restaurants, and designated parking spaces for moms-to-be. In this forward-thinking economy even men's restrooms are beginning to offer changing tables.
"Considering the great strides in medicine, fertility therapy, and information from long-term, follow-up studies, children born now have the greatest potential for a healthy and happy life," says Dr. Leondires. All things considered, that may be the most important reason of all.