Creepy Obstetric and Childbirth Technology Patents

Childbirth technology often seeks to predict the unpredictable and control that which does not always need to be controlled or managed. Unfortunately, the primary motivation for inventing new birth technologies and applications isn?t always to make birth safer?it?s often intended to make birth faster and less expensive for hospitals.

Patent: Automatic apparatus for controlling the childbirth labor
automatic_apparatus
The name of this 2006 patent says it all. It?s a device to control birth. The authors claim that the technology is known in obstetrics as a Pressure Labor Assister (PLA) with pressure sensors-controlled software, which ?utilizes the pressure increase inside an air chamber?formed within an abdominal band fixed around the patient?s body?and which occurs as a consequence of the natural uterine contractions, to provide an automatic extra force, as an aid to the parturient, for the expulsion of the future baby.?

Alternate ?automatic extra force? to expel ?the future baby?: Stand up. Change positions. Move.

Cost of alternative: $0

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Patent: System and Method for Analyzing Progress of Labor and Preterm Labor
computer_csection_predictor
This system of sensors applied to the pregnant abdomen measures and analyzes electrical uterine activity to provide ?early detection of failure to progress.? Now women will know if they need a c-section before wasting expensive bed space, nursing care and pharmaceuticals in the hospital. Ironically, the goal of the system is to reduce the number of c-sections. The authors of the patent also note that ?if given enough time, many very slow and even arrested labors will eventually proceed to vaginal delivery.?

Alternative to early detection of FTP: Time. Then more time.

Cost of more time: Varies depending on location of birth

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BirthTrack
birthtrack

Marketed to women as an alternative to multiple vaginal exams during labor, BirthTrack received FDA clearance in the United States. According to the BirthTrack Web site for mothers-to-be, ?you will have continuous information regarding the progress of labor and you will know the position of your baby every second. 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 bed.?

Caveat: May result in an orgasmic birth for she-robots, lady cyborgs and the Noelle s550 Maternal Simulator.
noelles550

Alternative to excessive vaginal exams: Don?t perform too many.

Cost of alternative: $0

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Patent: Cervicometer
cervicometer
How continuous monitoring of the cervix during labor was envisioned in 1960. The idea for BirthTrack has been around for 50 years.

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Patent: Obstetric Drape
obstetric_drape
Inventor Robert Shane proudly states in 1925 that his invention has to do with a drape or shield ?designed to cover the anterior part of the body of a woman in confinement.? The purpose of the invention is to provide a drape whereby the body may be ?properly covered.? Shane notes that it is a known fact that thousands of women die and thousands more ?are seriously crippled for life or for a long time as a result of infections occurring during childbirth.? What Shane didn?t realize in his efforts to provide sterile surfaces is that obstetricians were not washing their hands in between performing vaginal exams and performing autopsies.

Creepy Factor: Very High

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Patent: ?Hermetic Sealer of the Rectal Opening for Childbirth?
anal_plug_for_labor
This 1928 invention is intended to hermetically and aseptically close the rectal opening during labor so as to prevent infection of the vagina from the intestinal contents. In addition, it claims that it will prevent overextension and lacerations of the perineum during labor, as well as hemorrhoids. To be clear, the inventor specifies that the invention is to be applied AFTER the skin surrounding the rectal opening has been depilated, cleansed and dried.

Again, a main source of infections in lying-in hospitals was later determined to be doctors? hands.

Creepy Factor: Moderate to High

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Patent: ?Labor Slippers with Straps for the Anesthetized Lady?
slippers
Designed by a gentleman in 1890, this obstetrical device is employed by ?plac[ing] the slippers on the lying-in patient after she has been put to bed.? The patent holder notes that ?The loop D is designed to receive the patient?s hand; but instead of furnishing a grip such loop is intended to embrace the wrist, as by such means there is no danger of the arms becoming lame, as has heretofore been caused by attendants pulling upon the patient?s hands.? He also advices padding the straps so as not to cut or injure the wrists.

Creepy Factor: Too sad to actually be creepy. Most American women choose to remain literally or figuratively tethered to a hospital bed in labor today without knowing they have options.

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Patent: ?The Midwife Eliminator?
leather_strap_system
This apparatus ?has been found to be of great utility. It gives confidence to the patient, aids her in assuming such position as will expedite delivery, makes it unnecessary to employ female assistants to support the back and by its support relieves the pains in the loin and at the sacral and lumbar articulations.?

Creepy Factor: Moderate

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Obstetric Stirrups
stirrups_shrouded
Filed exactly 100 years ago.

Why is she shrouded?!

Creepy Factor: The stuff from which nightmares are made

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Other Patents for Parents:
Did the media?s negative coverage of co-sleeping and bed-sharing make you afraid to snuggle your newborn? Consider visiting your local welder to commission a bed enclosure for a baby.baby_dome

Night nursing would be a breeze through the bed enclosure with the use of this multipurpose nursing shield patented in 1877. Who hasn?t wanted one of these when stuck in traffic with a baby in the back seat?

Note: You can post pictures of yourself nursing on Facebook as long as you use this.
12_inch_nipple

Have you come across any unusual patents or theories on how birth can be improved, augmented, controlled or rendered more efficient through technology? Comment with a description or link!

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Posted by Jill

This entry was posted in General, Hospital Birth, Labor and Birth, Midwifery, Natural Childbirth, Obstetricial Interventions, Obstetrics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Creepy Obstetric and Childbirth Technology Patents

  1. Sarah T says:

    I think it’s pretty safe to say that none of these were invented by a woman.

  2. Kathy says:

    Oh, my goodness — I don’t know whether to laugh or cry or run screaming from the room! I choose to laugh, though. :-) But it is sad. And very, very weird!

  3. Heather says:

    Although somewhat different, they make the bed enclosure thing. I think it’s called a snuggle nest. Some of them even have night lights & play music. I thought about getting one, but mama’s arms snuggle a baby better.

  4. mommy2be says:

    Heather – I tried the snuggle nest for a little bit. My DD didn’t like it but I do think it’s a good option for people who are hesitant to cosleep for fear of rolling over on their child.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I tried the snuggle nest too, I was a bit nervous about co-sleeping before I realized how in tuned we would become. When my son was 2 weeks old he started “crawling” out of it. One night I woke up with him snuggled up next to my thigh where he exited the snuggle nest, and I realized that it would be safer to just have him right next to me, so we abandoned the contraption.

  6. Pingback: How to overmonitor birth even more than we already do! | Best Health