Stunning images taken during childbirth have captivated the Internet with snapshots of how the human body can shape itself to its circumstances – in this case literally.
The images reveal how the vaginal delivery process can mold a baby’s head into a cone shape. This is a normal occurrence at birth, but these images of a baby boy named Graham were a bit more extreme.
Photographer Kayla Reeder captured the moment on Valentine’s Day morning, when she received a call that the mother, Nikki, had gone into labor. Pushing took about an hour as the boy was a tad sideways in the birth canal, but otherwise Nikki experienced a smooth delivery.
“The molding on Graham’s head was extra dramatic because of his position,” Reeder told IFLScience. “His head was tilted a bit to the side so the molding isn’t centered and it caused his mama to push for a bit longer than if he would have been in a better position. Soon after birth the molding went down and by few days old he had a perfectly shaped head.”
So why does this happen?
Newborns do not have fully formed skulls at birth, instead they have plates joined together by fibrous material called sutures. These sutures allow the bones to move during birth and help the baby squeeze through the narrow birth canal.
In addition, babies have a couple of soft areas on their heads, where the skull bones haven’t fused together. These soft regions, called fontanels, also help ease the baby’s head through the birth canal.
Since the baby’s skull is incredibly malleable, resting its head in the same position can result in an uneven head shape, called positional plagiocephaly. Minor molding is considered a cosmetic issue more than anything, as flat spots on the back of the head don’t cause brain damage or stunt growth.
In this case, baby Graham's head formed back into a normal shape – truly revealing the miraculous wonders of the human body.
But it's not just the baby that changes shape. Check out how the mother's organs literally shift during pregnancy to accommodate her growing child in the animation below.