A New Venture

Documentary Film: The Future of Birth

GW Presents The Future of Birth

The Future of Birth

Even though all 7.8 billion of us on Earth are born, we know actually very little about the process of pregnancy. As GW scientists Megan Leftwich and Alexa Baumer were investigating pregnancy’s biomechanics, a third—Michael Gallagher—called on them to help him investigate a high-risk pregnancy issue. The result? An unprecedented, interdisciplinary research endeavor that just might midwife a future that saves billions in healthcare costs and countless lives.


140 million

Approximate # of babies born each year worldwide (roughly 4 million in the U.S. alone)


Approximate # of vaginal deliveries that fail in the developed world (in some countries it’s closer to half)






“We’re really good at getting babies into this world. We’re not so good at understanding how that works. I hear people, ‘You know, it’s such a natural process, it just works.’ It doesn’t just work. People die doing this.”

-Dr. Megan Leftwich



600 million

Cost per each percentage point of surgical deliveries

18-20 weeks

Time in pregnancy in which cervical insufficiency can cause pregnancy loss



Our Researchers


Dr. Alexa Baumer


3 stars

Dr. Alexa Baumer 

Dr. Baumer began working in Dr. Leftwich's lab during her undergraduate years at GW and decided to pursue a doctoral degree researching questions related to the biomechanics of childbirth. She finished her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from GW in 2021.

3 stars

Dr. Michael Gallagher 

Dr. Gallagher is a high-risk obstetrician and associate clinical professor at GW. He is actively involved in teaching George Washington University Obstetrics and Gynecology residents at Holy Cross Hospital. Dr. Gallagher also has an active interest in medical ethics. 

Dr. Michael Gallagher 


Dr. Megan Leftwich 


3 stars

Dr. Megan Leftwich 

Dr. Leftwich investigates natural fluid dynamics phenomena at GW and applies their findings to engineering problems. In addition to the fluid dynamics of human birth, Leftwich’s current projects include the wake dynamics of vertical axis wind turbines and the hydrodynamics of pinniped swimming (in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Zoo).







“It’s surprising in some ways how understudied labor and delivery is. As more women become engineers and scientists, I think that there will be a lot of developments.”

— Dr. Alexa Baumer