Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How to overmonitor birth even more than we already do!

I wanted to highlight a little bit of ridiculousness I found out about via Birth Activist's great post on Creepy obstetric and childbirth technology patents. Introducing...the Birth Track!

Let's discuss a few things on the Birth Track website.

First, "Currently, cervical dilatation and head station are assessed by the physician/midwife manually during vaginal examination. In the usual procedure vaginal examinations are performed numerous times during normal labor."

As Birth Activist so succinctly puts it, the alternative would be to do fewer vaginal exams. Furthermore, what are the problems with numerous vaginal exams? 1) they're uncomfortable for the mother; 2) they increase the risk of infection; 3) they can make people nervous about "lack of progress". Given that the monitors in question are attached to the cervix I can't imagine how numbers 1 & 2 will be improved, and I think 3 would be made even worse.

"The cervical dilatation measurements are performed by a small Ultrasound unit, that is placed on your abdomen, similar to the fetal monitor belt. Also three sensors are attached: two to the cervix and another one which is incorporated into the fetal scalp electrode."

I love how they try to downplay the fact that the monitor is attached to your cervix. "It's monitored by an external monitor! Also 3 internal ones." Note how they assume your water is (has been artificially) broken so you can use a fetal scalp electrode. Oh, wait, note how they assume that you'll be using a fetal scalp electrode (it screws into the top of the baby's head).

"You will have continuous information regarding the progress of labor and you will know the position of your baby every second."

Fabulous! Because continuous information has been proven to improve outcomes. Oh wait - it hasn't? It's been proven to do nothing, except increase the number of unnecessary c-sections? Oh.

"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."

Being an active participant because you watch labor progress on screen is like being an actor because you watch TV. It's a sad comment on what we think "active participation" in labor is.


Jill said...

I've had you in my feedreader since you started this blog and have been meaning to link to you in one of my 4,000 unfinished draft posts I'm working on.

Love the blog. =)

publichealthdoula said...

Thank you!! I appreciate the comment so much! I checked your profile but didn't see a blog linked there - if it's somewhere else, or just still in draft form, let me know because I'd love to read yours as well (also, love your profile pic.)