Conception to Birth in 3-D

A new book offers a clear view of the whole nine months.


When I was pregnant with my first child in 1995, every week seemed to last an eternity, as I worried whether I would make it through the first trimester without miscarrying (after going through that twice) and then how the kicking, nudging, hiccupping creature inside me was progressing. All I had was a fuzzy ultrasound image from the 20th week that, had I known what I was looking at, would have revealed my daughter's perfect little profile. Today's ultrasound technology has advanced to the point that radiologists can get clear 3-D videos of fetuses as they develop.

Moms-to-be sometimes walk away with these high-def images. But even if their ultrasound facility doesn't offer the latest technology, Your Developing Baby: Conception to Birth, a new book hitting stores this week, does. Using ultrasound images on nearly every page (3-D as well as the hazier 2-D), the illustrated guide walks women through the step by step development of a fetus from the speck of cells in the first early weeks to a fully formed baby about to be delivered. The authors, who are both professors of radiology at Harvard Medical School, clearly label and describe all of the anatomical features including the internal organs, far more than couples get on a typical sonogram snapshot.

The one gripe I have with this book is that it at times gets a bit too cutesy—allowing, for example, that certain facial gestures mean that the fetus is "amused," "peaceful," or, with finger pressing against nose, acting a "bit impolite". Any new parent knows that a newborn's first few smiles are caused by gas, and his or her movements are largely reflexive. The authors, married to each other, even include baby pictures (though not the ultrasounds) of their own brood of five. Still, I would recommend this book to any expectant woman eager to know what's going on in her uterus. I'm thinking of handing off my copy to a friend who's pregnant with her third and whose 3-year-old recently asked her to unzip her belly so she could see the baby. I'm guessing this manual could be the next best thing.