Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More machines in labor

The USA, with its many technologies and sciences, has the second worst newborn death rate in the modern world . You'd think then that we'd make some attempt to alter our current approaches, but it doesn't seem that the birth industry is interested in that.

Instead, as if we didn't already impose enough interventions and interferences on mother and baby during childbirth, Barnev inc have come up with yet another machine we can stick on the mother to "improve" the way we're currently "managing" childbirth.

The Birth Track System screws onto to the baby's head during labor, and further sensors are placed on the mother's cervix. The machine then uses ultrasound technology to determine how dialated the cervix is and how far the baby's head has engaged/decended down the birth canal.

The company claim the following benefits:

Your partner will be able to be an active participant in the labor process as
he/she follows the progress of the partogram on the screen next to your

In otherwards, your partner can be distracted by the screen and learn to rely on it to tell how things are progressing, rather than paying attention to how you are coping. I remember my first labor, with heather, how intimidated I was by the machines and people in white coats. My husband and I would stare at the machine monitoring my contractions and watch the numbers rise every time. It made me feel like the machine was responsible for the contractions and like they weren't valid unless the machine showed a high number. Instead, I should have been focussing inward on what my body was accomplishing. The machines were scary and made me feel less in control of what was happening to me.

Early decision making - Precipitous and non-progressing labor may be detected
earlier and appropriate actions taken for improved outcome
In other words, we'll be able to whisk them off for a c-section faster, which puts the mother at 2-4 times greater risk of dying in childbirth. Currently, about 1 in 3 babies are being delivered via c-section in the USA, and our newborn death statistics don't seem to indicate that this is helping save many lives.

Staff time spent on digital examinations is potentially utilized better
elsewhere. Better use of personnel resources leads to cost reduction and more.

Ah, so we can make labor even more impersonal. Leave the lady in the room strapped to machines alone with her husband there to watch the machine screen and the Drs and midwives can spend time doing other things instead of supporting or comforting the couple. Don't you just love progress like this?

Support tool during litigation- BirthTrack provides full documentation of
cervical dilatation and fetal head descent during the labor process

It's all about the law suit.

The site also states

you need to realize that the system will not collect information on the progress
of labor while you are walking

Women will be strapped down in bed for this to be effective. Waters will be broken which increases the chance of infection and the risk of cord prolapse. Then the mother is lying down through labor, which doesn't allow gravity to help bring the baby's head down, the very thing this machine is designed to monitor! And if the head is not coming down it could potentially inhibit dialation of the cervix, the other thing this is set up to monitor.

Yet I'm sure the machine will catch on. It makes about as much sense as some of those other machines they currently use. Why not.

And I can't make a post like this without including this sketch at the end.


Di said...

Very insightful post and naturally quite worrying. Those stats are not good!! I do understand from a recent article in one of the UK pregnancy/birth mags (can't remember which one now) why a higher no. of women are looking for alternatives to "high tech" births in hospital.

Thanks for sharing, Denise. Very interesting for sure. x

Kinsleys3 said...

Sigh, yes, and thus I ended up with a c-section for Madison, depsite my all-natural birth plan.