June 27, 2011
Anna Christopher, NPR




Expectant Mothers Blog about Pregnancy for "The Baby Project" at NPR.org

In Bolivia, young parents are choosing strollers over the traditional (and now hip in the West) baby slings. IVF clinics are flourishing in China. Swedish parents enjoy some of the most generous parental leave in the world. In Mozambique, HIV rates and health worker shortages complicate childbirth. An expectant mother in Union, Kentucky, blogs about her final days of pregnancy, birth, and new parenthood in real time. And in New York City, parents and toddlers must go through rigorous interviews for competitive preschool admissions.

This summer, NPR's afternoon newsmagazine All Things Considered delves into the universal subject of childbirth with "Beginnings," a far-reaching collection of reports and features looking at medical, cultural and economic aspects of birth around the world. "Beginnings" will air Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays starting today, Monday, June 27, and run through August 2011.

"Beginnings" will include reports from across the country and the world, with NPR correspondents contributing stories from Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States. Melissa Block and Michele Norris, co-hosts of All Things Considered (who are mothers themselves), will also report for the series.

As part of the series, NPR.org introduces The Baby Project, a blog following nine pregnant women from different regions and walks of life who are expecting to give birth this summer. The women will blog about their final weeks of pregnancy and early weeks as new parents. Women will be contributing to the blog from: Charlotte, NC; Lillington, NC; Logan, UT; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Oakland, CA; St. Paul, MN; Union, KY; and Vinalhaven, ME.

Through incisive reporting and commentary on everything from advances in fetal surgery to the post-partum depression in Uganda, "Beginnings" will take listeners around the world to compare attitudes toward childbirth and care. Stories will explore France's gold-plated health system for new mothers, which is under strain from budget pressures and immigration; the popular Chinese tradition of spending the first month post-birth confined to the indoors; and ancient childbirth rituals in Egypt associated with the number seven. In Mozambique, Melissa Block reports on the use of the drug Misoprostol in preventing post-partum hemorrhage and in medical abortions. "Beginnings" will also take a look at pregnancy, childbirth and parenting in the United States. Norris will visit Delaware, a state trying to reduce its infant mortality rate, which is significantly higher for African Americans. She also reports on the concept of group prenatal care, called "centering."

Listeners can hear "Beginnings" during All Things Considered. The entire "Beginnings" series and The Baby Project will be available at NPR.org.

All Things Considered, NPR's signature afternoon newsmagazine, is hosted by Melissa Block, Michele Norris and Robert Siegel and reaches more than 12 million listeners weekly. To find local stations and broadcast times for the program, visit www.npr.org/stations