Every first-time mother has likely pondered the same question prior to giving birth. How are they possibly going to be able to fit something the size of a cantaloupe through the birth canal during vaginal delivery? The concept seems daunting and nearly impossible, yet thousands of women successfully do it every day and have been doing so since the beginning of mankind. New 3D scans provide doctors with a little more insight into how exactly an infant’s head changes shape in preparation for labor so that it can fit through the birth canal. This is the first time doctors have ever been able to see this transition take place in real time through the use of an MRI machine, according to Today.
How did doctors get the opportunity to capture these images? Seven courageous women agreed to give birth in an MRI machine. By doing so, doctors at the University Hospital Center, in Clermont-Ferrand, France were able to secure 3D images depicting seven babies literally making their way into the world through their mother’s birth canal.
MRI scans of pregnant women show just how much babies' big heads are squished by traveling through the birth canal. https://t.co/8f9LY5uJBS
— Mindy Weisberger (@LaMinda) May 15, 2019
Of course, it is common knowledge that a baby typically doesn’t just slide out effortlessly. It takes a lot of work on their mother’s behalf to give birth. But the infant itself also undergoes major changes while still in the womb before the childbirth process. In looking at the images, doctors were shocked by just how much an unborn infant’s brain shifts and changes form during the process. Often, a child’s head will look abnormal after it is first born but will generally go back to a normal shape as it gets a little older. However, there is always the risk that something will go wrong and a child will have problems fitting through the birth canal.
It is for this reason that Dr. Hany Aly, chair of the department of neonatology at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, sees studies such as this one as so highly important. These images can give doctors a better understanding of how to assist mothers through the delivery process so that their infant is born without any complications.
“Sometimes there are brain hemorrhages, and we don’t know where (they) are coming from. When that happens, the baby can have long-term brain development issues, like cerebral palsy. We have no clues before delivery. We don’t know who will have this problem. We don’t know how to avoid it. This study is trying to target a very small number of babies — one in a thousand or less who might have a problem.”