Tuesday, 03 July 2012
Published this month in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology is a study on childbirth research done in Berlin - where they recorded a live MRI of a woman giving birth. My first thought was how in the world did she fit in there or have the room to birth her baby? Where did those attending her birth fit in this puzzle? And wouldn't that be super loud to a newborn? So I got the details.
She gave birth in an open MRI, not a closed one. That explains the room issue. You'll notice if you watch the video (which is only MRI images and not of the mother herself) that the images stop pretty much when the baby crowns and is about to emerge. That's because they didn't want to damage the hearing of the newborn so they had to stop actively scanning.
The MRI images in the video are cinematic, that is they were still frame shots that were put together in sequence, but the sequential timing is not accurate. In other words, she didn't birth her baby in 30 seconds, which is about how long the video is.
If you have difficulty discerning what is what in the video, I'll explain some landmarks to you right below the video.
The first thing to know is that the woman's water has not broken. Yes she is in active labor, delivering her baby. But sometimes the amniotic fluid sac doesn't break until right before the baby emerges. So on the MRI image, under the baby's head you'll see a whitish bladder-looking sac. That's the amniotic fluid sac.
Right above that is the baby's head, he is facing his mother's spine. In fact, you can see his very white eyeball at different times in the video. And so, you also see the mother's spine on the right side of the image. Notice the back of the baby's head (towards the mother's front), you can even see his brain stem going towards his own spinal canal.
It is important to know that on an MRI, unlike X-rays, bones are not white. Air looks black, like in the bowels. Fluids looks whitish.
At the end of the video you can see an attendant's hands. Remember that the MRI stopped as soon as the baby was emerging to protect the baby's hearing.