10/29/09

The Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force


"The Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force, may not end the age-old debate of whether or not centrifugal force actually exists, but it sure will take a pregnant woman’s mind off the business at hand during childbirth!

The device, which was patented on November 9, 1965, is a complicated machine consisting, basically, of a concrete slab with an elaborate motor mounted onto it, a table, metal straps, which the inventors, George and Charlotte Blonsky recommend, but do not insist, be made of iron to hold the victim — I mean, mother-to-be — in place, a rotary that looks something like a huge scythe, and a vaginal basket for catching the expulsed infant. Of course, the Blonskys were likely to encounter some problems from the outset. Namely, a hospital’s cost for acquiring and maintaining such a large-scale piece of equipment, not to mention the amount of dedicated floor space needed to house such a behemoth. Trickier however, is confronting and changing the way women and doctors envision the whole birthing process.

In simple terms, a woman in labor is strapped into the “Apparatus” and spun around at a speed that create[s] a gentle, evenly distributed, properly directed, precision-controlled force, that acts in unison with and supplements [mother’s] efforts. In everyday language: it’s as close as women have gotten to a passive delivery system since we all agreed that doping mothers as they are giving birth might not be the best thing for baby. The result? The baby is safely, well hopefully, expelled into the warm, expectant embrace of a woven basket! That’s right. A baby’s first tactile experience is not that of a doctor’s gentle touch, but rather, the impersonal sensation of an artificially constructed womb. (I guess the better to prepare the baby for the cold, impersonal world it is likely to encounter in the years ahead!) Although the very thought of all this is likely to diminish any TLC visions we might have of delivery rooms abuzz with joyful anticipation, the Blonskys’ were interested, mainly, in accelerating the childbirth process."
- via Colitz.com


Like all inventors, the Blonskys sought to address a problem, namely the long, laborious process of giving birth. Never having had any children of their own, the inspiration for the Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force came from observing a pregnant elephant in labor. The elephant, alone at the Bronz zoo was spinning during labor. The Blonsky's though this was Centrifugal Force in action and failed to realize that in the wild, when in labor an elephant is surrounded by it's herd until the labor is over. This captive elephant was just alone, and making do. The Blonsky's even went on to win a Nobel Prize.


Sound crazy?



Well, some of the women polled after the device was patented said "If I was full term and sick of being pregnant, I'd give it a go."


Kind of makes you think twice about what else we do to our bodies when we induce, augment, or interfere with normal birth. Instead of making devices and drugs to speed up labor why can't we accept the beauty in the slow process that nature has requested?



Don't get me wrong, I appreciate medical interventions when they are truly needed. However, in low risk births why must society try to improve upon something that when left undisturbed tends to create the best outcomes for mom and baby?



And what about the elephant spinning at the Bronx Zoo? It makes me think of women in hospitals, left without the support of the continuous care of a midwife or doula, left to deal with these naturally primal urges and sensations in "captivity" so to speak.



Like the elephants in the wild, birthing women need the full support of the herd. I think all women should carefully consider who will be the "herd" or team of birth professionals at their birth.






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