Thursday, July 31, 2008

Birth Track

So, news of this device actually being marketed has been buzzing around the blogosphere, and my initial reaction was no way. Here's yet another way to interfere with normal birth. Another piece of technology to rely on. Then I thought about it some more, and when I read this piece over at the Birth Activists blog, I felt the company marketing the product does have a point. At least, one that seems logical to them. They feel using this device to track cervical dilation throughout labor would actually decrease the chance of c-sections, at least those due to failure to progress. Measuring dilation would be more accurate if done with this machine, instead of by a nurse or doctor. And as long as it shows progress, even minimal, then a failure to progress diagnosis could not be used as an excuse to wheel the woman into the operating room. Really, you should read the whole post over at the Birth Activists, she lays out a very interesting discussion she had with a representative from the company. And she makes some excellent points toward the end of her post. Like, the potential for even more theories about what the normal length of labor should be, and the normal rate of progression. And if the machine doesn't show progression at that rate, well, you could still end up with the failure to progress diagnosis that would land you in the operating room. Obviously, this device would also be a bad idea for anyone planning a low-intervention, unmedicated birth. If this became a "mandatory" monitoring device, as the external monitor currently is, you could see how women would be strapped down even more. And have to put up an even bigger fight to not be subjected to the monitoring. Because, let's face it, external monitors can at least be unplugged for a while, so a laboring woman can move around, walk, go to the bathroom in peace and quiet... I'm afraid this internal monitor would make all of that a lot more difficult. Anyway, go read the post at the Birth Activist. It really is a good read, and gives great insight into the minds of those who come up with these types of gadgets. Tell me what you think. Would you like to have something like that during your labor? Would you love to see the progress on the charts? Or would it be yet another reason to stay away from the hospital? I'm putting up a poll for this, too. Even though it's not Friday yet. :p

ETA: Another thought I just had. One of the things the representative mentions in the interview is that if the monitors show slow progression, it would enable the doctors to augment labor sooner, which may shorten the duration of a woman's birthing time. I'm not sure that's such a wonderful argument to make, as the use of drugs to speed up labor brings with it another host of risks. Which may, in turn, require a c-section for other reasons, such as fetal distress. I suppose whether the device would really reduce the rate of c-sections remains to be seen...

7 comments:

Kelley said...

I still think it's not a good idea, and I certainly don't ever want to use one. No point, in my opinion.

Hanna said...

I actually voted useful tool. MOSTLY, I think its scary, but ultimately I can see how in the right (wrong?) situation, this would be more accurate than a doctor or nurse's opinion about the progress of labor.

If a woman is planning an epidural anyway (and most are), then it would make sense to minimize vaginal exams and inaccuracy. I didn't see if she ever brought up the risk of infection. After all, now there would be multiple hoses and tubes running up into the vagina from the super clean (not) hospital bed or floor. Isn't that just asking for an infection?

Doreen said...

Hanna, good point about the infection! Something else that would have to be looked at more carefully, I think.

Karin said...

I know I am a crazy hippie, but remind me again, why women need to have their dilation assessed anyway? ;-)

With more technology to "help" with birth, it will only take longer for our culture to realize that it was a pretty good system *before* the medical field- we- messed with it. Of course, there are rare cases where intervention is necessary and helpful, however, no scientific research has proven that knowing "how open your cervix is" will predict the kind of birth you will have Case in point, my sister walked around for two weeks at 6 cm with one baby and had birth 6 hours after only a ripe cervix and no dilation with another.

Sabrina said...

Don't get one of those things anywhere near me!!!
I need to read the article you recommend but it really just seems like another way to take "natural" completely out of the act of birth. On a different note, let's meet at the new mall sometime!!!

m.scott said...

I think it's a good device if a woman is planning on an epidural anyways, especially if it decreases the risk of a c-section.

Lari said...

Sorry... the above comment was actually me... I was logged in under my husband. oops.
:P