July 16, 2014 – Labor and delivery practices have come a long way since the first traced use of a birthing “chair” was employed in ancient Egypt around 1450 B.C. During those ancient times, midwives would support the pregnant woman as she sat on a stool and leaned back during childbirth.
In more recent times, and as medicine has continued to advance, birthing chairs have come into vogue, especially because their upright position allows gravity to naturally assist in the expulsion of the baby. Now, comes Relaxbirth.
Relaxbirth, invented by a Finnish midwife and designed by a Relaxbirth Ltd. team, has garnered numerous international awards for its innovation and is much more than simply a birthing chair. The unique design helps women change positions – standing, sitting, squatting and side-lying – during labor, with each position designed to maximize the woman’s comfort. Relaxbirth can be used during the first stage of labor (before pushing) and/or the second stage of labor (pushing).
The basic cornerstones of Relaxbirth are based on the premise that upright positioning during labor is preferred for a number of reasons:
- Upright positioning maximizes the diameter of the pelvis; by sitting or standing the diameter is increased by almost 30 percent
- Gravity is a woman’s friend during labor; upright positions maximize the gravitational forces and help the baby descend through the birth canal
- Leaning against Relaxbirth and movements by the woman during the first stage of labor increase relaxation and help the baby to descend
- The position maximizes the natural pushing power; in addition, pushing handles and ideal support points for the woman also contribute to the mothers feeling less exhausted after delivery
- Being upright during the second stage of labor has been associated with fewer pushes, less trauma to the birth canal and fewer vaginal births using forceps and vacuum extractors
Through its combined efforts with the BioFinland Technology Bridge/Akron Biomedical Corridor, Summa Akron City Hospital is now the first – and only – hospital in the nation offering Relaxbirth to women in labor. Currently, the device is only being offered as part of a research study on women with low-risk pregnancies at Summa. Perinatal Outreach Educator Jennifer Doyle, RN, MSN, of Summa’s Women’s Health Institute is leading the study and noted that participating in the study “in no way changes the care our patients receive from the physicians and staff at Summa. Expectant moms should talk to their doctor or certified nurse-midwife if they are interested in Relaxbirth,” added Doyle. “Remember, when it comes to labor and birth, go up for the baby to come down!
About Summa Health System
Summa Health System is one of the largest integrated healthcare delivery systems in Ohio and is one of only two health systems in northeast Ohio accredited by the American College of Radiation. Encompassing a network of hospitals, community health centers, a health plan, a physician-hospital organization, a multi-specialty physician organization, research and multiple foundations, Summa is nationally renowned for excellence in patient care and for exceptional approaches to healthcare delivery. Summa's clinical services are consistently recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (Magnet® status), U.S. News and World Report, Thomson Reuters and The Leapfrog Group. Summa also is a founding partner of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron. For more information, visit www.summahealth.org or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/summahealth and Twitter at www.twitter.com/summahealth.