Birth Without the Messy

So we have one of these at my university and a friend of mine in the FAU Comparative Studies PhD department Jeff Nall  is working on research that looks at this robot, which simulates birth. He sees this pregnancy-bot as part of the medicalization of birth. For him this is akin to pornographic toys – like the Jenna Jameson vagina that can be bought which is literally just a vagina and upper thighs – so it objectifies the vagina and eliminates the subjectivity of the female.
Jeff’s argument is pretty convincing – he brings up all these advertisements, which imply that doctors are in control of birth not women – have any of you see Ricky Lake’s film about home birthing – The Business of Being Born – pretty interesting stuff: Here’s a clip from it – I think…
I’m on the fence – in some ways this looks like a great teaching tool – but then again when a woman goes into the labor room if her doctors and nurses are used to dealing with a robot will this undermine her agency as a living breathing woman ?  Thoughts?


3 responses

  1. Whatever happened to good old teaching hospitals? I’m not sure this can teach anything. E’s a doctor now and he told me about his time in OB. He said that every birth had something unexpected.

    All this teaches them is how to catch (and probably cut). It dehumanizes the woman and the process. I personally am revolted.

  2. I agree this is a continuation of the medicalization of birth which leaves what is best for the woman and baby out of the picture. I am horrified by the fact that very few doctors and med students in the US have witnessed an all natural vaginal birth. Medical schools consciously making a decision to teach students about labor and delivery with a robot rather than a real laboring woman is tragic and will no doubt accelerate the upward trend of unnecessary and dangerous cesarean births. With a national average cesarean rate of 40% with many hospitals in metropolitan areas closer to 65-85%, it is time we as a nation began to examine and demand change of a system that endangers both the mothers and babies it purports to protect. It is NOT time to move baby and mother further from the birth process and further the disconnect between doctors and what is natural in labor and birth!

    • I agree with you both – but do we really think that this “robot” wil be a students only experiance? Couldn’t it just be a tool or as a tool will it still undermine the reality of a living being – I guess I’m just not sure. Don’t we think that on some level people who work with this “robot” will always be aware that this is not a living breathing being and that they need to show more respect for a real person? Or is it just cut and dry – once they’ve seen the robot they will never respect “real” birth again?

      On another note Kristin makes a really important point regarding natural birth – most med students are completely unfamiliar with a drug free birth and cesarean is becoming alarmingly normal – for no medical reason whatsoever.

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