I'm at 32.5 weeks of pregnancy! Hurrah! The home stretch is in sight. My OB even gave me the "go straight to the hospital if you think you're going into labor" spiel this morning. :)
I've been reading a lot about childbirth recently, as I often do when pregnant. Modern medicine is amazing at helping women and babies get through the risky event of birth relatively unscathed, as is evident by what happens in countries that aren't as blessed. Here is a 2004 WHO compilation of perinatal mortality rates by country. The US was at 7/1000--average for developed countries--while less and least developed parts of the world had perinatal mortality rates of 47/1000 and 60/1000, respectively. I feel very grateful to live in the USA and have access to good health care.
However, there's always room for improvement. I have a short wish list of birth-related technology advancements I'd love to see implemented in this country in the next few years:
1) Universally available wireless fetal monitoring during labor; in a time when people are tweeting and Facebooking on smart phones about the progress of their labor, it seems really antiquated that fetal monitors are still mostly wired rather than wireless. It would be great if they could be waterproof, too, for those women who want to use birth tubs.
2) Use of the Odon device to speed up labor and help with obstructed labors. It may have been developed for poorer countries, but it can help decrease the hazardous use of forceps and vaccums in the US, too.
3) More accurate technology to measure whether the baby is suffering from oxygen deprivation during labor. It would be good if we could have fewer unnecessary C-sections and more prompt C-sections for babies beginning to suffer brain injury; unfortunately, at present we often can't know which C-sections were or were not necessary until after birth because fetal heartrate monitoring cannot tell us how much oxygen a baby is getting during his descent. This recent report of MRI usage to "evaluate fetal cerebral venous blood oxygenation" looks like a promising step towards measuring the baby's oxygenation rates during labor, although it's just a first step, for I can't imagine the adoption of a protocol to put laboring women into MRI machines anytime soon.