Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe for the baby?
There are no contraindications to labouring in an upright position apart from the very rare event of cord prolapse. On the contrary, placental blood flow is less likely to be compromised and the mother may well have less need for analgesia and anaesthesia. A naturally shorter labour should benefit the baby, as does the higher chance of normal birth and lower risk of admission to NICU.
Is it safe for the mother?
Women will be far safer labouring near the floor in upright positions than they are on the obstetric bed which is higher. Using the chair to maintain an upright position for labour and birth should reduce the risks associated with surgical delivery.
But women are all different shapes and sizes, will one size fit all?
Women of many different shapes and sizes have tried it out. This shape and size seems to suit most women.
What about infection risks?
The frame is manufactured out of marine grade stainless steel and the removable cushions upholstered with antimicrobial fabric. The cushions lift off easily for cleaning.
Won't it be bad for midwives' backs?
Midwives are used to scrabbling about on the floor, following women around in labour - midwives can be a nightmare for manual handling personnel (in the nicest possible way). Women using this chair may alleviate some problems for midwives who are used to supporting women in 'alternative' positions. Perhaps forward leaning positions will even become the new standard.
What about maternal observations?
Midwives will need to get used to performing vaginal examinations with women in different positions. They will probably need to be creative about how they palpate.
I'm having an epidural, can I still use it?
A low dose 'mobile' epidural should still be possible - but women may find they don't need it if they can get comfortable on the chair.
My midwife says I will need EFM, can I still use the chair?
The open design of the chair allows leads to be placed conveniently. Monitoring by telemetry would be even better.
I need one for my labour next week, what can I do?
Ask your midwives to bring in a bed table, birthing ball and beanbag or improvise with whatever is available in the unit.
How much does it cost?
Just under £1,000, plus carriage and packing.
Will there be room in our unit?
The chair has a footprint of 700mm x 900mm and 900mm high.
Will midwives need extra training?
All midwives should be able to adapt to listening in to the fetal heart with women in different positions. Midwives will still need women to be lying flat for palpation to ascertain the fetal position. Any suggestions on how to use this chair for palpation gratefully received.
Heloise Osborne was a very dear friend who died in October 2008, just after her 50th birthday. She didn't have any children and divided up her estate among her friends. She thus enabled me to devote time to pursuing my dreams. I dreamt up a device for labour and birth the following summer and plucked up the courage to devote more time to it and to writing the following December.
Osborne House was Queen Victoria's holiday home in East Cowes and is one of the iconic places on the Isle of Wight where I live. I like the idea of a tangible link to the Island. Queen Victoria has links with childbirth culture, she was one of the first to use anaesthesia for labour. I like to think this chair may help render anaesthesia less necessary for birth.
O.S. could stand for 'other side' so the chair is for labouring and giving birth on the other side - i.e. off your back.