Soon you can see your baby in a 3D virtual reality ultrasound

Thanks to modern technology, you will soon be able to see your baby in a 3D virtual reality ultrasound! Yes, it is actually as amazing and helpful as it sounds!

Soon you can see your baby in a 3D virtual reality ultrasoundSeeing your baby for the first time in an ultrasound is an exciting time during pregnancy. Early traditional ultrasounds show some level of detail that seems pretty cool to the average new parents: you can usually see a heartbeat, the beginnings of major organs, the development of your baby’s basic anatomy and of course the much anticipated sex organs. Although early ultrasound images don’t resemble how your baby will appear outside the womb, parents are nonetheless very eager to see their little ones to ensure healthy development.

Now, imagine amplifying the traditional ultrasound to a virtual reality experience. That’s what a team out of Rio de Janeiro developed. It’s actually a blend between an ultrasound and a MRI that allows parents to see the exterior and interior of their babies in 3D by wearing a headset called the Oculus Rift.  As with other virtual reality devices, parents can simply move their heads to change the view and explore different areas of their babies in utero.

According to the developers, babies appear much more true-to-form using this new technology and resemble how they will appear as newborns. Parents are better able to begin the bonding process as they see their more realistic baby move, breathe and develop in the womb. They can also hear their babies’ heartbeat through the virtual reality experience.

The true benefit, however, may be less about the parents and more about the view it offers doctors. Having this virtual reality window inside unborn babies allows doctors to check for complications within the baby. These may range from the proper development of organs to air blockages that could be an impediment during the birthing process. OBGYNs and pediatricians can be better prepared for potential health risks if they know what to expect prior to childbirth. For instance, a baby whose organs are compromised may need immediate surgery or a baby with a blocked air passage can be treated right away or even prior to birth to ensure she can take her first breath without hesitation.

The 3D virtual reality ultrasound technology has not yet become mainstream practice but researchers believe this is the new wave in prenatal care. With benefits for parents, doctors and most of all babies, this technology is extraordinary and ground-breaking.

Sources: Life Site News, The Telegraph and NBC News



Fewer OBGYNs When We Need Them Most

Fewer OBGYNs When We Need Them MostAccording to the women’s website Mother Jones, there is a shortage of OBGYNs in the U.S. and the problem is getting worse. As fewer medical students select standard obstetrics and gynecology as their field, more and more OBGYNs retire and more and more women have babies, the gap between medical needs and available doctors will continue to grow.

This disturbing news is concerning for several reasons: First, the American College of Nurse-Midwives claims that almost half of U.S. counties lack OBGYNs. And when they say lack, they mean there is not one OBGYN to advise and care for women’s gynecological needs or support pregnant women. That’s astounding!

Additionally, the population is expected to grow significantly in the next 14 years. Estimates from Pew Charitable Trusts say that there will be an 18% growth in that timeframe. This means that there will be a lot of babies in our future, and not enough doctors to properly care for their mothers during pregnancy.

As it stands now, the U.S. has a pretty high maternal death rate from childbirth compared to other developed countries.  Ours is 18.5 deaths among moms in 100,000 live births. The rates are well under 10 per 100,000 births in Japan, the U.K. and Canada.

The shortage of OBGYNs may be due to several factors. First, the field is now dominated by female doctors. Statistically, female OBGYNs retire 10 years earlier than men and prefer to work reduced schedules, likely to care for their own families.

Furthermore, many medical students are choosing other areas of medicine that are either more lucrative, more interesting or less time-consuming. Even within obstetrics and gynecology, there are specialties such as fertility and oncology that are growing in popularity. Plus, being an OBGYN is less flexible and more interruptive of a doctor’s life than other fields because women have babies any time, day or night, on weekends and holidays. OBGYNs have to be prepared to cover all of these situations.

Just how short is this shortage? According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, The U.S. will have 6,000 to 8,800 fewer OBGYNs than necessary within the next 4 years.  Then by 2050, there will be a shortage of approximately 22,000 OBGYNs.

Some states are looking into alternative healthcare options for women such as nurse midwives. Most nurse midwives are required to work in practices alongside with medical doctors, however due to the shortage of OBGYNs, this requirement may change.


Source: Mother Jones

The People We Should Celebrate in Birth

Labor Day is this Monday and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than honoring the people involved in prenatal care, childbirth and helping you care for your new baby.  Having children is a “labor of love,” and there are many dedicated women who can help make it an easier, more comfortable and less stressful experience for you and your family.  From doctors and nurses, to midwives and doulas, in honor of Labor Day we are highlighting the professionals we should celebrate in birth.

OBGYN:  For most pregnant women, an Obstetrician is the primary practitioner who oversees care for both the mother and the baby while in utero.  Obstetricians specialize in prenatal care including a range of common pregnancy conditions such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, edema and many more.

OBs and their staff help monitor the baby in the womb to ensure mom is providing the best gestational conditions and the baby is growing and developing properly.  They also test for potential birth defects and other problems that may threaten the health of the baby.  OBs are typically the doctors that deliver babies in the hospital and will continue to check on mothers in the days after childbirth.  Obstetricians often perform circumcisions on baby boys a day or two after birth if the procedure is to be done in the hospital.

OBGYN Nurse:  You may encounter many different OBGYN nurses at your practice who have different roles in your prenatal and postpartum care.  You will often work with a nurse prior to seeing your doctor at every visit to review your status, symptoms and other vital information.  Nurses may help your OB perform routine tests in the office.  If you call your doctor’s office, you will often speak to a nurse who can answer most non-emergency obstetric questions or can seek advice from your doctor if necessary.

The People We Should Celebrate in BirthIn the hospital, your nurses are usually divided into two teams:  labor and delivery, and postpartum care.   Labor and delivery nurses monitor expectant moms and their babies through active labor and assist the doctor or midwife in delivering the baby.  Nurses may specialize in vaginal deliveries or c-sections as the care and procedures vary.  Postpartum nurses care for the new mother and newborn after the baby arrives.  Nurses will consistently check vital signs and the recovery status of the mother, helping her work through potential problems and symptoms.  Postpartum nurses also help mothers navigate caring for their newborns with tips and advice on everything from breastfeeding and burping, to diaper changes and swaddling.

Doula:  Doulas are trained, experienced professionals who assist mothers before, during and after childbirth.  Birth doulas aid in the labor process and usually stay with the mom-to-be throughout labor.  Her role is to preserve the birth experience as the mother intends and provide comfort as the mother sees fit.  Postpartum doulas help mothers navigate their new role as a mother.  This may include newborn care, soothing techniques, infant feeding support, recovery solutions for the mother and family adjustment.

Midwife:  Midwives are often specialized trained nurses who provide prenatal care for mothers and their babies.  Midwifery is aimed at individualized care that takes each mother’s specific needs in mind such as their emotional wellbeing or cultural background.  Midwives foster personal relationships with their patients and often deliver babies themselves.  They are more likely to assist in labor support and postpartum care than Obstetricians.

Lactation Consultant:  A lactation consultant is a trained professional who helps new mothers in their breastfeeding journey.  Many new mothers, especially first time moms, are unsure about how to begin breastfeeding.  Lactation consultants help with logistics such as positioning babies and ensuring proper latch, milk production strategies, hunger signs, breastfeeding schedules and a healthy breastfeeding diet.  Lactation consultants usually make rounds in the hospital and offer new mothers fact-based information on infant feeding.  They can also see mothers in or outside the hospital on an appointment basis.

Pediatrician:  This is the primary care physician for babies and may be a child’s doctor through her teenage years.  Pediatricians make first contact with the baby in the hospital as they check on the health and development of babies daily.  Then babies visit the doctor several times within the first month and typically again at two, four, six, nine and twelve months within the first year.  Pediatricians and their staff will weigh, measure and examine your baby at each visit.  They administer shots when necessary and may perform extra tests such as vision, hearing and other specialized exams.

Mothers:  Of course, the entire birthing process isn’t possible without the strength, courage and love of mothers.  Motherhood is a one-of-a-kind experience that requires a lot of patience, dedication, love and support.  When becoming a mom, many women have a newfound appreciation for their own mothers and other mothers in their lives.  Motherhood is enhanced through family and community, and finding support in other mothers with shared experiences.

This Labor Day, we hope you join us in celebrating all those who make birth and childcare their “labor of love.”  Happy Labor Day!