Crowdsourcing my labour: can you help me?

I’ve been mulling over the use of technology in labour.  Not the machine in the corner that goes bing, but rather the technology I can use to help myself distract from and manage the labour process better.

My last labour was not a barrel of laughs, it has to be said.  I went into it totally confident that I would be very good at labour (if you’ve seen my build, this will make more sense: all bum hips and boobs) and that I can take pain, after all, I’ve had tattoos!  What could be worse than hours of inking?  Ahahahahaha.  How (amusingly, now) wrong I was.  Labour pain is different than any pain I’d felt before, it’s more like a rush of pain (think cramp in your calf muscle, but all round your tummy, back and thighs) that builds up for 60-90 seconds, then tails off again for a couple of minutes.  Then comes back again.  Repeat this for anywhere between 8-30 hours and you’ve got your basic labour.  I think I coped quite well for the first 12 hours at home, which got me dilated to a whole 1cm.  Yes.  1cm.  I had the other 9cm to go, which are more painful.  1cm – 7cm I did in 3hrs at hospital (bloody fast) with no pain relief, until the midwife finally took me seriously, had a look and said, oh quick, get her boyfriend back…  At which point I gave up mentally and physically and had as many drugs as they’d let me in quick succession, which led to a really sucky birth experience (I’ll leave the details out, although happy to share on email if you’re interested), and one I’d like to avoid this time.  I want to try for a completely drug free labour and birth.

I went into labour last time mostly unprepared, other than a change of clothes and an over confident mentality. This time, I’ve been doing birth prep mentally since week 30 (Natal Hypnotherapy) and practice my breathing and relaxation daily.  I’ve been doing prenatal yoga, kept very active, booked a water birth, and generally have done as much as I can from my side.

Why am I telling you about labour?  In particular, mine?  Because I have a challenge for you.

What I want to do is crowdsource technology that can help me be distracted, amused, soothed, up lifted, and motivated – you understand the basics of what a labour can be like now, which is hopefully helpful.  [note: all labours are different, I’m not saying they are all like the one above, it’s a sort of flag in the ground for an average labour I think – from what I can work out they vary from ideal, calm, breathing baby out labours to emergency c-sections and everything in between].

I’m specifically after:

  • really engaging apps that can distract me – games, motivation, interesting timers
  • music to listen to – uppers, downers, in particular happy calm for first stages and hyper dancey happy or fast paced metal for later on to ride the adrenaline with – want to make me one?  I have Spotify if that helps.  I think 30 mins per playlist is about right.
  • any other uses of technology I haven’t thought of

I have access to and can take any of: iPad, iPhone (3GS), Android (Samsung Galaxy S), Nokia N8, GBA, GB3DS, spotify and speakers.  I want this to be easy access technology that I can jab a finger at, rather than anything actual laptop/computer based.  I will also have a DSLR and a HD camcorder with me, in case any has creative ideas or challenges for things to do with those.  I will mostly be focussing on breathing and meditation though, so bear that in mind.

What I’m asking for is something different than the usual approach.  How can I use technology to help me with my labour?  I have the contraction timers, I have some games (Pinball I’m thinking will be useful) – but is there something really clever you can think of that might work?  Perhaps you have an idea you’d like user testing by a woman in labour?  Imagine if you could make a really good labour/general pain distraction app and get it field tested!

Things I wished existed:

  • an app that’s a labour narrative – helpful, funny, informative, interactive, that women (and birth partners/men?) can use in labour?  How cool (and potentially revenue lovely) would that be?  Something that works with you through the stages, but is also helpful and engaging, and changes pace and content as you need it to, like when a contraction comes.  It could even be used as a mini diary and scrap book by the birth partner to be filled in with the woman’s wishes before hand (birth plan but more personal) and hints and tips like labour massage and reminders flashing up (“Have you offered her water/food/back rub/hot or cold compress recently?” etc) and when the birthing momma wants to use it it could change into relaxing affirmations, preloaded music, mini games… who knows!
  • a game or distraction app that interacts with your contractions, so that each time one starts you hit the power up button and it gets harder or faster, perhaps louder – anything that requires more concentration – to take your mind away from the pain.  Hit the button again when done to return to normal service…

It has long been noted that playing videogames can help alleviate pain – there are now many studies out there that have proved it.  I want to give this the labour test.

Would love to hear your ideas and play lists, or if anyone (or probably better, any digital agency) wants to take up my challenge of making one of the two ideas above.  If you’ve got a tight enough idea I can probably find some funding, and help you create it on a rev share basis.

I’m 36.5 weeks pregnant.  My due date is 5th August 2011.  Only 5% of babies are born on their due date, with majority going over.  So although I *could* pop any day now (term is 37 weeks, full term is 40) chances are you have 4-5 weeks to have a think!

About Thayer Prime

Tall. Eats a lot. Talks too much. I tweet over @thayer
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1 Response to Crowdsourcing my labour: can you help me?

  1. Rosie Sherry says:

    My husband’s hand was the best thing around. It got plenty of squeezing. He cracked a joke or two as well, which helped. So, why not a robotic hand that talks when you squeeze it? 🙂

    Good luck, 2nd time round is easier 🙂

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