Skip to content
Surprising Science

The Childbirth Assistant

Childbirth may be the miracle of life, but its practical reality is grounded in a set of rather utilitarian necessities that ensure the mother and baby’s health and survival. While hospitals in the developed world have streamlined the childbirth process, from basic hygiene to postnatal care, in Mexico alone, over 500,000 pregnant women annually lack proper insurance or social security and thus don’t have access to hospital care. Across Africa, South Asia and Latin America, that number is 20 million. Consequently, many women turn to midwives – often medically untrained and lacking basic equipment – risking both their own health and that of the baby.

To address this issue and enhance the childbirth experience, Mexican designer Francisco Lindoro created The Childbirth Assistant – a user-friendly kit of basic equipment designed to make childbirth as safe and comfortable as it possibly can outside a hospital.

One of the three major causes of death-related to childbirths for mothers and babies is infections. My design provides a whole set of sterilized equipment that makes their delivery safer and more comfortable and because of that it reduces the stress in mothers during labor.”

To better understand the challenges of giving birth in sub-par circumstances, Lindoro spent a day assisting the midwives in a village clinic.

He then designed a kit simple enough to use by a single person, if the midwife has to perform the procedure unassisted, and equipped with all the major necessities of a successful delivery – sterile hospital gowns and gloves, a “birthing mat,” scissors, umbilical cord clamp, forceps and sutures. It all comes in a sealed and sterilized container, which even unfolds into a sling for carrying the baby after birth.

The Childbirth Assistant was an silver winner at last year’s IDEA International Design Excellence Awards, organized by the Design Society of America.

Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.

Boys are four times as likely as girls to develop autism. Girls are nearly twice as likely to experience depression. The immune system may be a player in these and other brain-health disparities.

Up Next