Birth in an MRI

Babies are born in all kinds of settings, but a 24-year-old woman in Berlin chose to have her third child in December of 2010 inside a magnetic resonance imaging device at the Charite University Hospital in the German capital.

Researchers at the hospital last month released a brief segment of the seven sequences of real-time images they made of the birth inside a specially constructed open MRI, shown in the photo below. The video accompanied the publication of their article about the event in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

A midwife, an obstetrician, a neonatologist and an anesthetist were in the magnet room while the MRI was on. The hospital's delivery unit was a short distance away on the same floor. Mom and baby left the hospital two days after participating in this historic birth.

The view of the baby's journey into the world from inside the birth canal will provide researchers with valuable insight into the mechanics of this amazing passage, the authors said.

Birth in an MRI

The mother was just shy of 38 weeks gestation, fully dilated and experiencing regular contractions. She received an epidural before entering the MRI, where she remained for less than an hour, according to the article.

One additional "study" was taken of the mother's body after birth, "to evaluate the third stage of labor with regard to placental separation and uterus involution," the authors wrote.

The researchers, all affiliated with Charite, were concerned about subjecting a brand-new baby to the loud noise of the machine without the "maternal soft tissue" padding, so they turned the MRI off just at birth.

Images Christian Bamberg / American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology

A new look for Birth Story

Regular readers of Birth Story may be surprised to see that its look has changed. I was surprised, too.

Updating to the latest edition of WordPress stripped off the custom features that used to be here. I had been merrily backing up my site to my computer. I had not realized that, for the year I have had Mac OS X Lion software, the backups were not worth the virtual space they were occupying.

I have gleaned from various forums that Apple Inc. apparently has decided that material that comes from an FTP server is not sufficiently secure to allow in . Or something. I regret to say that bit got right past me.

It looks like there are some easy fixes to try, you know, before your site comes down. (And now here comes OS X Mountain Lion.)

Anyway, this is 2011, a WordPress default theme that was hanging around on my computer. It turns out I like the lighter look, and now I'm thinking of other things I might like to try.

The truth is, I'm practically giddy that the wreckage wasn't worse — I lost my whole site in a past upgrade, when thankfully I had a functional backup — and I'm grateful that a few little fixes were all I had to do. So I'm backing up to the cloud now, which of course is in the news for faltering during the storms this past weekend.

Nothing is certain. If you're lucky, everything turns out all right in the end.

Pregnancy book births a movie

The recently released movie What To Expect When You're Expecting has plenty of stars (Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Chace Crawford, Elizabeth Banks) and a storyline chockablock with pregnancy and, eventually, birth.

Critics hated it but viewers gave it a somewhat warmer reception.

What to expect movie 2

Elizabeth Banks and Brooklyn Decker in What To Expect: The Movie

The mere fact a movie called What to Expect...  got made reflects the strength of the brand of the 28-year-old self-help book that inspired it, What to Expect When You're Expecting.

And it is an awesome brand. WTE is in its fourth edition, with more than 15 million books in print.

The author of What to Expect When You're Expecting, Heidi Murkoff, wrote the first edition of the book with her late mother, Arlene Eisenberg, and her sister Sandee Hathaway, who is no longer involved with the series. Sharon Mazel co-authored the fourth edition.

The WTE franchise also includes books on babies and toddlers, plus a baby-sitter's handbook.

The WTE website now has a page about the movie, including the stars' thoughts about the book. It has all come full circle, which gets to be a little dizzying, if you ask me.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother's Day seems like a good time to make a resolution to get back into more regular posting on Birth Story. So let it begin!

With Nora on the couch

With Nora on the couch

This is a picture of my daughter Nora, who is now 24, during her first few days home, relaxing on the couch with me. I don't know why she is sitting at the other end of the couch, but this is my husband's favorite early picture of us together.

Being a mom changed my life in big ways and small. I remember how disoriented I felt that first week, adjusting to nursing and my post-pregnancy body. My daughters, Nora and Maeve, are two of my favorite people, and Mother's Day is one of my favorite days in the whole year.

Happy Mother's Day to all the other moms (and everyone else) reading this post today. Have a wonderful day!

How the other half births

The birth Jan. 7 of Blue Ivy Carter, daughter of hip-hop stars Beyonce and Jay-Z  (Shawn Carter), had Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan in a tailspin this week.

Beyonce pregnant


Other new parents complained of disruptions and even security breaches as the celebrity family reportedly took over part of the hospital's sixth floor for a private, customized labor-delivery area for $1 million-plus. (A hospital spokesman said the Carters occupied an "executive suite" and paid the standard rate for it.)

Neil and Rozz Nash-Coulon were upset at being detained in the neonatal intensive care unit after visiting their newborn twins, while Edgar Ramirez reported he was refused entrance to visit his baby in the the NICU unit. Windows were covered, private security guards issued orders, and security cameras were even disabled, families complained.

"The security of our children is at risk when you cover security cameras," Ms. Nash-Coulon told Nina Bernstein of the New York Times.

And, all the secrecy fed rumors. Beyonce's website states that "Baby Blue" was "delivered naturally," while portions of the blogosphere ran with a report that the birth was a C-section. And there's even a contingent that holds that Beyonce's pregnancy was a fake, that a surrogate mom bore Blue.

Tina Fey and Jane Krakowski, stars of the sitcom 30 Rock on NBC, told The Today Show's Matt Lauer that they both had their babies at Lenox Hill Hospital as well. Said Fey, "My celebrity treatment at Lenox Hill involved taking a group breast-feeding class in a closet."