This is reBIRTH, a woman-centered birthing tool. reBIRTH is shown in both of its configurations.
This video summarizes our entry.
This video summarizes our entry.
(top) In-context visualization of reBIRTH. (bottom) Switching between reBIRTH's two configurations.
reBIRTH can switch between two configurations and support up to nine different birthing positions.
The parts making up reBIRTH, and the materials used in its construction.
Some ideation sketches. reBIRTH has gone through a lot of improvement and changes since day one.
What it does
reBIRTH enables mothers to give birth in the position of their choice. Its multiple configurations support a variety of upright & lying down birthing positions. It makes labor more comfortable and less painful than when done on current obstetric beds.
We learned in our Humanitarian Engineering class that birthing practices vary between cultures. In some indigenous Filipino cultures, women give birth on the floor instead of a bed, while others give birth while squatting instead of lying down. However, a conventional obstetric bed doesn't afford this variety of positions, keeping a woman lying on her back when other positions can make labor easier for her. It also looks intimidating and uncomfortable to a would-be mother. We also learned from doctors in underserved areas that at times they had to ferry mattresses over to reach a woman in labor, or when there are not enough beds.
How it works
reBIRTH can switch between two different configurations — an upright mode and a lying down mode. Its default configuration encourages an upright labor position which can be done using the stool (75cm x 45cm x 30cm) or via the flip-in-and-out part (75cm x 45cm x 30cm). The C-shaped stool is designed as the passageway of the baby and the mother’s discharge, while the flippable part can serve as a wedge or a backrest. The other mode caters to birthing positions such as kneeling, lying, side-lying, and semi-inclined through a roll-out mattress (180cm x 75cm x 7.5cm). The simple configurations of reBIRTH make it easy to use while catering to a wide variety of birthing positions. Its interior is made of two layers of foam: coconut coir for support and polyurethane for comfort, both of which are easy to procure and replace when they deteriorate. Its exterior will be covered by waterproof olefin fabric for ease of cleaning.
In class, we were asked to design a birthing bed responsive to the needs of its main users—mothers giving birth. From our interviews with doctors, midwives, and mothers, we found out that current bed designs are overall uncomfortable. We looked at today’s obstetric beds to base our first set of designs on—a collapsible wooden one, then a waterproof covering that could transform any table or bed into an instant delivery bed. Initial feedback from doctors yielded positive reviews. However, another doctor advocating for positive childbirth experience for the mother asked us to reconsider our design. She pointed out: once a woman in labor is made to lie down on an obstetric bed, she is disempowered, contributing to an unsavory childbirth experience.Reading up on WHO recommendations and criticisms on the obstetric bed, we decided to focus our design to enable the mother to choose the position she is to give birth in, in order to create a positive birthing experience for her. reBIRTH's design veers away from obstetric beds, and embraces other birthing practices & technologies. We took into consideration the variety of positions a mother may choose in any stage of labor and added a mat for those who prefer to give birth at floor height—all without sacrificing the mother’s comfort.
How it is different
The usual design of obstetric beds forces the mother in labor to lie down on her back, inconsistent with the natural physiology of labor. reBIRTH, however, allows for a variety of birthing positions, thus empowering her to choose her preferred position, even giving birth on the floor on the mat we included should she want. Its simple design encourages her to find the best configuration for her in any stage of labor. Its absence of metal contraptions makes it look less intimidating to first-time mothers. reBIRTH utilizes refuse derived from natural sources, particularly coconut coir and olefin fiber, to reduce waste and allow for easy replacement when they deteriorate. Using these materials lower the unit cost, making it accessible to areas underserved by proper maternal services, like far-flung island villages. All told, reBIRTH dares to shine the spotlight on the mother. After all, a positive birthing experience is one that we shouldn’t take away from her.
We plan to tap local sources for sustainable materials, like recycled olefin fiber from fabric factories & coconut coir from coconut farms, and produce prototypes for user testing in local birthing facilities. We'll seek support for user testing, spreading awareness, and getting reBIRTH approved for hospital use. As reBIRTH is an advocacy, we plan to build a social enterprise around it with the help of public and private funding. We’ll create more iterations to accommodate more body sizes and add other features like handles, and identify similarly sustainable materials in other countries to encourage localized manufacturing therein.