The doctors have long known that the heads of newborns change shape during birth, but the exact details have remained unclear.
Childbirth is the most natural thing in the world – and there is no doubt that it is quite extraordinary.
While many are familiar with the changes the mother's body goes through to prepare for labor, you may be surprised how well the baby adapts.
This 3D image shows one of the child's heads, while in the womb, before labor. Picture: provided.
This image shows how the baby's head changes during the second stage of labor. Picture: provided.
But these fantastic new 3D images show how the children's heads adapt as they move through the birth canal before delivery.
Doctors have known for a long time that babies' heads change shape during birth, known as "shaping the head of the fetus".
These changes occur during the second stage of labor, when the child leaves the uterus and moves through the birth canal.
However, the details of the fetal head molding remain unclear and only a previous study has captured the images of this process.
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But now scientists at the University of Auvergne in Clermont Ferrand, France, have captured in detail how the head changes before and during the second stage of labor.
Their analysis, published in the journal PLOS ONE, revealed that all seven children went through the modeling of the head of the fetus, with different parts of the skull overlapping at various levels.
After birth, five of the newborn's skulls and brain shapes returned to the pre-birth state, but the changes continued in two of the newborns.
Two of the three children with the highest degree of fetal head modeling were delivered from the emergency section C, but the third was administered vaginally with minimal expulsive efforts.
Another image shows a child before the mother went into labor. Picture: provided.
Here you can see how the shape of the head changes and the nose flattens out during the second stage of labor. Picture: provided.
The dott. Olivier Ami, who led the team, said: "During vaginal delivery, the shape of the brain of the fetus undergoes deformation at various levels depending on the degree of overlap of the skull bones.
"The molding of the fetal skull is no longer visible in most newborns after birth.
"Some skulls accept deformation and allow easy delivery, while others do not easily deform."
Overall, the results suggest that children experience more cranial stress during birth than previously thought.
The team says it could potentially underlie the asymptomatic brain and retinal bleeding seen in many newborns after vaginal delivery.
They note that a larger study is needed to confirm their results, but that their work demonstrates the value of 3D magnetic resonance in the acquisition of fetal head modeling.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished here with permission.