Amazing video: first human birth visualized by MRI

These videos of a human birth, the first visualized by magnetic resonance imaging, apparently appeared as supplementary material to a paper by Bamberg et al. referenced at bottom.

The scan was obviously terminated when the baby’s head emerged so that the machine wouldn’t interfere with removing the infant (see picture below).

Supine view:

The write-up from The site:

In November 2010, a 24 year old gravida 2, para 2 woman at 37 5/7 weeks of gestation was admitted with regular contractions to the Department of Obstetrics of the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, Germany. The patient received an epidural and was transferred to the open MRI suite. In addition, the cervix was fully dilated, and the presenting part was engaged. Eight MRI studies were performed over a period of 45 minutes: 7 antepartum studies and 1 postpartum study. First, the woman was examined in the supine position with legs outstretched. In the active second stage, when the mother began expulsive efforts with the valsalva manoeuver, her legs were slightly abducted and supported by padding. This period was evaluated by real-time cinematic MRI series.

A 2585 gram appropriate-for-gestational age boy with Apgar scores of 9, 9, and 10 at 1, 5, and 10 minutes. Umbilical and umbilical vein pH measurements are routinely assessed as part of our daily practice. However, because of technical difficulties with the umbilical artery blood sample in this case, only the umbilical vein pH was available, which was 7.32. A neonatologist assessed the condition of the baby. Immediately after childbirth, the maternal anatomy was imaged before and after expulsion of the placenta, using a BFFE sequence. The total individual study time in the magnet room was less than 1 hour. The woman tolerated the discomfort during labor well and her postpartum course was uneventful. She was discharged with her newborn 2 days after delivery. The pediatric screening examinations, including auditory tests, did not reveal any abnormalities.

The setup for the scan:

h/t: Matthew Cobb via Emily Anthes


Bamberg C, Rademacher G, Güttler F, et al. Human birth observed in real-time open magnetic resonance imaging. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2012;206:505.e1-6. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2012.01.011


  1. gbjames
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Wow. Who designed that system? (the birth-giving one, not the MRI one)

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted July 2, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Yeah, some things just don’t scale well.

    • Posted July 2, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      The female pelvis displays engineering, more so than the male’s. While the ‘vestigial’ coccyx is the attachment point for the external anal sphincter (external door to the outhouse), it apparently serves as the dorsal attachment point for the pelvic floor musculature as well, of primary importance to women in particular, to not only support the developing embryo, but the associated female organs as well.

      So vestigial as once thought, try to have a baby without one!

      • Notagod
        Posted July 2, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

        The female pelvis displays engineering, more so than the male’s.

        You know that fallacy can be cured don’t you?

        We’ll just implant a softball with a christian death cross attached to it in your rectum, leaving it there until you squeeze it out or nine months or admit you’re wrong. Have fun jebus.

        • Posted July 3, 2012 at 12:55 am | Permalink

          Hmmm, sounds like a new video game. Can’t wait to see how many points I can score by expunging it without the benefit of induced labor.

          “Have fun jebus.”

          And may the Grid be with you as well.

          • Notagod
            Posted July 3, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

            Then you would need to not understand why the softball with the jesus stick was in your rectum to begin with.

    • Adam M.
      Posted July 2, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of something I read in a book by Steven Pinker. Infants’ heads are so big that their brains get squeezed like lemons during birth, and they often suffer small strokes and/or aneurisms. You can kinda see that going in in these videos…

      Thankfully, they usually recover.

      • Posted July 5, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        Incredible, indeed, the amount of deformation of the childs cranium during birth! I didn’t think it would deform like this.

  2. Cruella deVille
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Call me when you get the conception on MRI.

  3. Posted July 2, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    A gravida 2 para 2 would not be pregnant, otherwise, nice videos.

  4. Blondin
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I guess they have to use plastic salad tongs instead of metal forceps.

    • Posted July 2, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      and fetal monitoring would be an issue. Medicolegally, this could be a problem.

  5. Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on emmageraln.

  6. Leslie
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Who the heck would volunteer for this? It would take quite a bit of money for me to be in that contraption at that most serious time of my life.

    • shakyisles
      Posted July 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Not exactly a holistic water-birth is it? But in the interests of science I would have done it, and for the amazing pictures!

    • gravelinspector
      Posted July 3, 2012 at 6:24 am | Permalink

      It’s likely to be safer than the way 90% plus of people do it : in a ditch, in the marital bed, etc.

  7. MadScientist
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    There’s one procedure I hope never becomes the recommended one. Maybe the mother didn’t want people to hear her screaming so she volunteered – soundproofed room, loud machine – that should do the trick.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted July 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      It’s hardly like to. This was done purely for the sake of science.

      (You were kidding, right?)

  8. Kevin Anthoney
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Speaking as a man, I take it 25 seconds is about average for childbirth, right?

    • gravelinspector
      Posted July 3, 2012 at 6:31 am | Permalink

      The accompanying text indicates that the woman was in and around the machine room for under an hour. Which sounds pretty fast to me – not that I know or care to know much about the topic.
      That is probably why they used a volunteer on her second pregnancy (I think that’s what the “gravida 2” comment means ; though why is it not proper Latin, I don’t know). Presumably the first birth was uncomplicated.
      The internal mangling of a first birth must be something horrible. Potentially an effective contraceptive advertising item. Though given the number of generations of daughters listening to their mothers screaming and dying in childbirth, maybe it’s not likely to be particularly effective … unless you show it to the boys.

  9. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    The video was deeply affecting to me after I pressed the play button.

    But before I read Jerry’s text, I thought I was looking at a model for Ridley Scott’s Alien.

  10. Posted July 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    This man would not be able to endure such a process! She is more the ” man” than I am!
    Ashley Montagu claims the superiority of women!

  11. Gayle
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    “discomfort during labour”. You can tell this was written by a man!

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