Friday, March 18, 2011

You want to stick that WHERE?!?

Some things you wouldn't believe were true, except they are.

Like the story of my birth. My mom had a straightforward unmedicated delivery of my older sister in Washington state with a supportive nurse who coached her through the process. When she was pregnant with me and living in Rochester, MN (home of the Mayo Clinic), she assumed that the next birth would be much the same.

So she was astonished when she found herself upside down during my birth. Literally. Her doctor had a theory that giving birth upside-down would prevent hemorrhoids. He hung my mother by her ankles from the ceiling, with only her shoulder blades touching the bed. Without her permission. She was screaming to be let down, to no avail. I made my entrance into the world in a rather unconventional fashion.

To top it off, she has never had hemorrhoids with any of her five children, no matter what position she gave birth in.

But that was a generation ago, you're thinking. Surely we're more enlightened now.

Remember the BirthTrack?

Oh yeah. Well, but...

How about the Hem-Avert Perianal Stablizer Device? This FDA-approved medical device, which one commenter on At Your Cervix described as "something that belongs in the S&M section of a sex store, not in L&D," is supposed to prevent hemorrhoids due to childbirth.

Looks really comfortable!

Then there's the Materna medical device that is supposed to prevent tears by stretching the vagina for 1-2 hours before the baby is born.
Yes, that's right: instead of feeling the "ring of fire" for just a few minutes as your baby's head is emerging, you get to enjoy hours of that pleasant sensation!

Please hop on over and complete the survey about the Materna. Here's an excerpt from page 3:

It is has been shown [argh! bad grammar!] that 8 out of 10 women will have some degree of tearing during childbirth. These tears can range from from small vaginal tears, to tears that extend from the vagina all the way through the anus. Additionally, there can be invisible damage to your pelvic muscles which can lead to consequences later in life. Short term consequences include infection, extended pain, and longer recovery times. Long-term consequences may include pelvic organ prolapse, loss of urinary and fecal control, and potential sexual dysfunction.

Materna has developed a device that may be able to decrease some of the pelvic damage and the resulting complications that can arise as a result of childbirth. The device is a semi-automated mechanical vaginal dilator similar in design to a standard obstetrician’s speculum.

The soft, blue portion is inserted into the vagina after you arrive at the hospital or birthing center in labor, and will require 1-2 hours of dilation time before delivery. A medical provider will control the expansion of the device, which will gradually stretch the vaginal tissue during labor. The device can be easily removed at any time, and will pose no harm to the baby.

By dilating the vagina over 1-2 hours instead of the rapid dilation which normally occurs during childbirth, perhaps some of the pelvic damage can be prevented. The idea is similar to an athlete stretching muscles before a workout to increase flexibility and prevent injury. The device will be removed before you deliver, and should never come in contact with your baby.
Both Navelgazing Midwife and Dou-la-la have comment on the Materna. Go read their posts for a good laugh.

Then finally, there's the Cervo-Check. It's a prototype device that goes inside the vagina to detect early signs of pre-term labor.

L&D nurse & student nurse-midwife blogger At Your Cervix commented:
1. Painful and huge
2. You want to stick that where???
3. Will in fact irritate the cervix more. Hello - manual stimulation to the cervix/a device touching the cervix is going to trigger more prostaglandin release --& contractions!
Seriously, my bottom hurts just thinking about all these devices. Clips on my cervix, inflatable dildo in my vagina, plastic V pushing against my rectum...SIGN ME UP!



  1. All I can say is that I think the people who think these are a good idea should be required to personally test the products. Oh my aching head.

  2. On the plus side, I see the burgeoning of a fascinating new fetish.

  3. On third thought, that could be much too insulting to the bdsm community. After all, any self-respecting kinkster practices SAFE, SANE and CONSENSUAL play.

  4. It's all so insane as to be laughable, but it's also so depressingly indicative of the prevailing attitude that there is something wrong with birth, wrong with our bodies, and all we need to do is fix it using machines.

    If these people weren't trying to stick all this crazy stuff in women's bodies I'd actually feel a little sorry for them: they're so misguided.

  5. I had a second thought which got lost in the shuffle, and that was that it could be apt and entertaining to satirize obstetric interventions as an S&M fetish. But I'm going to stick with the notion that such a satire would be unfair and insulting to S&M. Those interventions have the flavor of control and sadism, but not of the spirit of respect and mutual benefit that underlies edgy sexual expression of the modern variety.

  6. Oh my gosh, that's scary! Especially what happened to your mom! Crud like that makes me very glad I gave birth at home, even if the Naval Hospital continues to give me hell about it.

  7. Note that it "requires" 1-2 hours of time. Oops, yet an other great reason not to push yet! Your vag stretcher hasn't done it's job! Gaaaa!

  8. All of those are really gross!

  9. no thank you! These are horrifying.

  10. One of my biggest pet peeves is how we, in oh-so-enlightened modern society, have this habit of looking into the past, or to "other places" (like developing countries) and thinking, "Gasp! Thank goodness we know better these days/here in America" or what have you. Uh...hello?!
    That is really something. Out of some bad science fiction.

  11. I actually used something called the Epi-no before my first birth, which is similar to the vaginal dilator shown, but you use it at home (and use it yourself). I still don't know if that is the reason I had no tearing with that or the next birth, but I found that using it helped prepare me more mentally for the birth as well. It basically helped me practice relaxing the pelvic floor a few days before I passed a baby through it. When the time came to deliver my daughter, the sensation was familiar though much more intense than it had been with the Epi-no. I didn't use it for the second birth because I felt like I didn't need it or as my friend so elegantly put it "if I stretched it any more, they would have to put me back together using duct tape."

    In the case of the Epi-no, it can also be used to help rebuild strength after the birth as well (it is also marketed to help with incontinence in women).

  12. If anyone ever suggested similar contraptions be used on a penis, there would be men rioting in the streets.

    And your mother deserves some kind of medal or badge for managing to give birth upside-freaking-down. Extreme!

  13. Is that an alliteration about your mom being upside down? Seriously, that's gotta be one of the craziest scenarios I've heard with the possible exception of the centrifuge for delivering babies. ~CB

  14. But ladies won't mind all these devices because they'll have epidurals so won't feel them stuck up their bits. ;)

  15. Actually, for the Materna medical device, it's less an inflatable dildo and more a medieval choke pear. Love me some technologies!

  16. All Torn Up Inside3/20/11, 9:54 PM

    I was recommended to use an "epi-no". Its like the materna but you use it over the course of weeks in conjunction with you perineal massage.

    I wish I had tried it.

  17. Seriously. Just bad. I'm a doula in Rochester, MN, by the way, and Mayo is getting better! No upside-down birthing, and they now have birthing tubs with waterproof wireless telemetry so even VBAC moms can labor in tubs. They still make you get out for pushing, though. Some multip is going to end up actually delivering in the water eventually; it's bound to happen and I know a couple of the midwives wouldn't mind that, either ...

  18. What Andrea said. I think you and I are close in age and I can't fathom what you mother went thru during your birth. My mother gave birth to me in a hospital in San Diego without meds. I'm not sure of her pushing position, but she got a glass of wine afterwards.

  19. Alll of them reallt gross and prob designed by a MAN! I would refuse every one, and I had some major or minor tears with all of my births! Just part of life and they really don't bother you too much. I tried to take the survey but it said this:
    Your request cannot be completed. The following error message was returned:

    The survey you requested: "1449/maternawomensurvey.htm" does not exist.
    For questions regarding the survey you were attempting to complete, please contact the owner of the survey, Materna Medical, directly.

    I tried to contact them but they haven't responded yet!
    Much love, Lisa

  20. Well, as far as I know, enemies used to be hung upside down on the outside wall of the fortress. To die due to failing of blood circulation + drying and what not. And to scare other enemies.

    Sorry if this is too scary, but so was your birth story.


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