If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy soon, you may know that the world of obstetrics is constantly changing, and it's an area of medicine with many new and exciting developments. Here are three pieces of news in the obstetrics field that show you just how fascinating these new advances are. Some may even pertain to you.

Less Invasive Prenatal Testing

Many women are encouraged to screen for certain birth defects, due to genetic conditions or advanced maternal age. Until recently, the only way to perform these tests was through amniocentesis or CVS (chorionic villus sampling), which because they involve puncturing the womb, carry a small risk of miscarriage for the patient.

Now there are several new less invasive means of testing for things like Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. In fact, these new tests are called NIPT--non-invasive prenatal tests--because there are no invasive procedures involved in them at all.

NIPT uses a blood test from the mother. Fragments of the fetus's DNA are present in the mother's blood, due to mixing in the placenta. The blood is checked to see if every chromosome has a match; if not, a birth defect could be present.

NIPT is still being tested for false positives, so it's not 100% accurate yet. As such, most insurance companies still consider it an out-of-pocket, non-reimbursable expense. However, it does point to the possibility of reliable, non-invasive testing for birth defects in the very near future, and you may want to keep tabs on your insurance plan to see when it will be covered.

Successful Uterine Transplantation

In 2014 in Sweden a woman give birth successfully for the first time following a uterine transplant. As part of a Swedish study of seven women, the patient, aged 35, received a donor uterus from a 61-year-old non-related woman. She received an implanted embryo approximately one year after her transplant and delivered a healthy baby boy.

The study is important, because previously a woman who had lost the use of her uterus due to cancer, for example, had to resort to a surrogate if she wanted a child of her own genetic makeup.

Out-of-Hospital Births

In spite of all the medical advances in obstetrical care today, the CDC reports out-of-hospital births are on the rise. While most women who elect to give birth out of the hospital do so to have more control over the process, it probably doesn't hurt that many celebrities have been open advocates of home births.

Physicians have become slightly more accepting of home births in the following circumstances:

Plenty of women, however, including celebrities, are still experiencing happy, successful births in the hospital setting, so if you feel this is the right place for you, you'll be in good company. And with all the advances in obstetrics today, you can count on being on the forefront of medicine, no matter which birthing location you choose.