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Archive for July 31st, 2008

My mom forwarded a blog post to me the other day that, truth be told, royally pissed me off.

I briefly considered writing my own post about the new BirthTrack™ Continuous Labor Monitoring System, but Rixa (of The True Face of Birth blog) summed it up so well that I’d recommend reading her blog post on the subject.  I’m just going to add a little to Rixa’s post. 

After reading her post & checking out the BirthTrack™’s website, I was amazed.

What male, childless inventor decided this device was a brilliant idea?  Wherever he is, he should be castrated immediately and have his license to practice medicine revoked.

This is not the first device to be screwed into the baby’s head while still in the womb.  Fetal scalp electrodes have been around for years (according to this research FSE’s were used in 755 out of 1,000 live births in 1991).  FSE’s are routinely used in the hospital setting, despite the fact that research shows their use has no positive effect on fetal outcome.  Think they aren’t really screwed into the baby?  Try this hospital’s description on for size:

A long, plastic electrode guide will be inserted into your vagina. A small spiral wire at the end of the electrode will be placed against the fetal part and gently rotated into the fetal skin.”

After internal fetal heart rate monitoring, the electrode site on the newborn baby will be examined for infection, bruising, or a laceration. The site will be cleansed with an antiseptic.”

Risks of internal monitoring include, but are not limited to, infection and bruising of the fetal scalp or other body part.”

Fetal Scalp Electrode

Fetal Scalp Electrode

Way to say, “welcome to the world, little one”! 

There’s no “gently” about it, but at lease this hospital (who I’m not affiliated with and have nothing against) provides parents with information regarding the procedures they “offer”. 

That said, I didn’t intend to bash the FSE in this post, though I’d like to point out that EVERY pregnant woman/couple should DO THEIR RESEARCH and be aware of all aspects of pregnancy, labor, and birth (including medical devices such as the FSE) before writing their birth plan and agreeing to such procedures.

Back to BirthTrap…I mean BirthTrack™.  Not only does it involve the aforementioned FSE, but it also consists of two “clips” attached to the cervix.  The company’s marketing site states:

Also three sensors are attached: two to the cervix and another one which is incorporated into the fetal scalp electrode.”

Excuse me, that does not go there!  Also, and perhaps this question comes from my lack of understanding and there’s a logical answer, but wouldn’t two sensors clipped to the cervix interfere with proper dilation and effacement?  How is the cervix going to thin and stretch (efface) uniformly if these devices are clipped to it?  Also, what happens to the sensors as the baby descends through the vaginal canal?  I assume the answer to the latter question is that they’re crushed by the baby’s head as it passes through.  Umm….?  I know it’s overshadowed by birthing the baby, but ouch!

Take a look at the BirthTrack™ birth scene and tell me what’s wrong with their picture of “the perfect labor & delivery”:

Directly from BirthTrack's website

Directly from BirthTrack's website

First off, where is this woman’s support team (partner, family, or other)?  Where is her care provider?  Oh wait, their all sitting back watching the monitor–which is basically a robot that tells them “all they need to know”–instead of focusing on supporting the woman’s labor.  And of course she’s on her back, because you can’t get up or move around while continuous fetal monitoring is going on.  She’s also not allowed to keep her own clothes on, perhaps because it’s standard in many hospitals but also because FSE’s (and thus, by association, BirthTrack) increase the risk of infection, use of C-sections, and other procedures.  

And don’t get me started on what a sterile & over-controlled birth this scene portrays. 

Of course, that’s what BirthTrack™ is trying to represent: the ultimate in human control over birth–a naturally un-uniform, un-micromanageable event.  This “ability to control” mentality is the heart of their direct-to-consumer (that would be the mother-to-be) marketing scheme.  When it comes down to the bare bones of this marketing ploy, it’s all fluff.  The amount of actual, factual information offered to mothers-to-be is very, very scant.  They’re simply playing on an expectant mother’s fears by attempting to offer her a sense of control. 

Since by it’s very nature birth is uncontrollable, isn’t that false advertising?

What really gets me is that:

1) this company is introducing a product without a lot of research to back it up (“over 300 women” isn’t a large test group);

2) introducing it as the “latest and greatest” when it’s not (the FSE component has been around for many years and physicians/midwives routinely gather the cervical dilation/head station information less invasively);

3) marketing directly to expectant mothers without giving them substantial supporting information and research on which they can rely to make their decision to use this device;

4) expecting women to allow–hell, even to appreciate–their bodies and babies to be treated like machines with little concern for their comfort and safety.

In my opinion, the BirthTrap (I like my new name for it!) is a medical device to be considered for use on prisoners of war as an interrogation device, not on precious mothers and babies.

Just my two cents.  What do you think?

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