The work could improve practices surrounding childbirth, Betti says. For example, a fetus must rotate to negotiate the twisting passage of the birth canal during labor, and these movements may vary depending on the shape of the birth canal. Betti says midwives she has talked to are well aware that women from different parts of the world have marked differences in labor, though it’s not part of their formal training.
The new findings suggest that if a baby’s movements differ from what’s considered normal for a particular region, she says, it’s not necessarily cause for concern. It may simply reflect the range of birth canal shapes seen throughout the world.