Royal families live incredibly private lives. The public sees what they allow to be seen in most cases. However, those within the walls of the castle royal family members are subject to public eyes for those in the inner-circle. Giving birth was previously not a private affair, nor was it done in a hospital. Royal births and everything that comes with it, anesthesia or not, were decided by several people.
Queen Elizabeth used ‘Twilight Sleep’ for her first three children, but changed the way royal births happened with her fourth child, Phillip. She did not take the ‘Twilight’ cocktail. One of the four births, Chares, was caesarian.
People have become increasingly infatuated with the ways of the royal family with the series ‘The Crown’ on Netflix. ‘The Crown’ is a story about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
One of the more astonishing things that came to light was the way royal babies are born, or better yet, how they were born. Queens throughout history have attempted to guide how they wanted their birthing experience to be.
Queen Elizabeth II changed the rules of royal births. Princess Dianna was able to sway birthing freedom a bit more and Kate Middleton further still.
Royal birth has come a long way from the ancient ritualistic and oftentimes dangerous extremes that it used to be. One of those dangerous items regularly used until Queen Elizabeth II declined use with Prince Phillip was Twilight Sleep.
Twilight Sleep was used up until around the 1960s. It was a mix of ether, morphine and scopolamine injected into the bloodstream.
This allowed the patient to drift in and out of consciousness, so it was adeptly named after the levels of wakefulness. Twilight Sleep would also erase the patient’s memory to the point they would not remember anything that occurred.
While under Twilight Sleep, the morphine made women prone to psychotic episodes where they would bang their heads, twist their hands, and all sorts of assorted madness. So, after the administration of the drug, the woman would be strapped down during birth.
The mothers during their Twilight Sleep would complain of the pain but afterward, they would have not recollection of the pain or the event. After the effect of the drugs had worn off, mother’s would be presented with a baby looking in shock at them as they were told that they had just delivered.
The drugs did not only affect the mother. Remember, mom and baby, are still connected through the placenta.
Babies would be born drugged and unable to breathe properly. It could well be this is where the popular image of babies being turned upside down and smacked smartly on the bottom comes from. The doctor is attempting to revive a near-comatose infant.
It is understandable that women would opt for a pain-free delivery. Demand soared for the drug in America once women learned that this may be an option. The charm soon diminished when Francis Carmody who was a Twilight Sleep supporter died after the birth of her third child while using the drug.
Not This Time
Queen Elizabeth II was known as a bit of a rule breaker. After the first of her three children, she made the conscious decision to not partake in Twilight Sleep for the fourth.
That wasn’t the only change. She also did not want to be crowded with bystanders. She wanted her husband and medical staff in the room with her, and that’s it.
Prince Phillip was born without the use of the drug and with his father present. Every royal birth since has been viewed by the proud father.
Twilight Sleep is no longer on a royal birth protocol. Queen Elizabeth II pushed for her right to deliver how she wanted to thus open the door for Princess Diane and Kate Middleton to do the same.
The birth of a child is an intimate, messy, agonizing, rewarding, and painful experience. Having a birth plan that you are happy with and eases the stress of the situation should be of paramount importance.
Queen Elizabeth II secured the safety of herself and her children, and grandchildren by taking a stand and giving birth how she wanted.
Royal Births Moving Forward
Princess Diane changed the birthing scene as the first princess to not have her babies at Buckingham Palace.
Both she and Kate Middleton welcomed their bundles of joy to the world in the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital. Kate Middleton took things a bit further by Tweeting the birth of her children opting out of the ancient practice of an official royal announcement.
Royal families are moving forward into the next century, which is pretty interesting to watch.