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The PregSense Monitor: A useful new tool or fear-based marketing

August 18th, 2015 by avatar

By Deena Blumenfeld, ERYT, RPYT, LCCE 

pregsensePart of a parent’s job description is to worry about their children. In doing so, parents can help the child maintain their physical health and their emotional wellbeing. However, when the line is crossed into fear based parenting; they may become overprotective to the point of stifling a child’s natural curiosity and the need to learn by making mistakes. They are then at risk of becoming “helicopter parents”.

This is an issue of control. When parents take full control, of their child’s overall well being, they feel that they are protecting them from all the negative aspects of the world. This is a fallacy.

Advertisers and marketers play into this fear and the need for control, that feeds into the parents’ feelings of limited or lack of control. Companies create and market products that provide the impression of safety and security. These products provide a false sense of control for parents, which furthers the illusion that they are doing something “good” or “right” as they “protect” their baby.

Making the rounds of Facebook, and other social media feeds, was this nifty little video about an at-home, wearable baby monitor. It’s called the PregSense Monitor by Nuvo Group. The general consensus from the online community, both mothers and professionals alike, was “Wow! This is amazing! We’ll save so many babies this way!”

My own reaction was a bit different. I’m a skeptic at heart and like all Lamaze educators; I’m a big fan of evidence based products, treatments, procedures and medications. So, I knew I needed to learn more about the PregSense monitor. What’s the evidence behind it? Would it really meet expectations, and save babies and reduce moms’ anxiety?

I attempted to contact Nuvo Group for an interview, but I have not received a response from them at the time of this writing.

Nuvo Group claims

The Israeli tech firm hopes the device will reassure anxious mothers like Michal, in week 32 of her pregnancy, who require monitoring without having to see her doctor.

Claim:  “(The monitor will) allay mothers’ fears by transmitting data about the health of the mother and fetus.”

  • It appears to monitor all of the mother’s vital signs, not unlike a Fitbit or other activity tracker. But how does having the knowledge about your own vital signs and getting additional information about baby’s activities reduce fear?
  • What if the monitor malfunctions? What does that do to a mother’s level of fear?
    • Can one make the assumption that if the monitor isn’t picking up the baby, the mother will become more worried, rather than less. This might lead to increased health care provider visits and further unnecessary medical testing.
  • Could wearing this monitor increase anxiety and potentially cause mothers to be so focused on the monitor it becomes a bit of an obsession?
    • Mothers may become hypervigilant and reliant on the constant stream of “data” available to be reviewed.
  • How would a mother feel if she was unable to wear the monitor one day? Would that increase her fears, even if those fears were unfounded?
    • Removing access, even for a short time could increase worry and interefere with a mother’s ability to continue her daily activities.
  • When there is a constant stream of data it becomes easy to tune out the information. Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of this device?
    • The information may become white noise and fade into the background, because it’s a nonstop stream.

Claim: Mothers can connect, see and hear the fetus whenever they want, without needing to consult a doctor.

  • Do mothers need a device to help them connect with their babies?
    • This product is trying to create a consumer need that does not exist.
    • Mothers connect with their babies all the time by feeling their movements; talking to them; touching their growing bellies, etc. Would the device reduce this natural mother/fetus interaction? Would a mother be more likely to turn to her smartphone for results from the monitor instead of paying attention to what her baby is actually doing throughout the rhythm of the day.?
  • Using this device would require a health care provider to be monitoring all of these women, all the time. This doesn’t take into account staffing levels or time to complete the task. 24/7 monitoring would be a massive time commitment and responsibility.
  • What about additional liability for the health care provider for not monitoring a woman properly or correctly identifying a problem?
    • We live in a very litigious society. A care provider might be facing a lawsuit if the data from the monitor is not evaluated regularly and an anomaly was missed.
  • Since there are two monitor types – the clinical monitor and the consumer monitor, this raises additional questions. What if the mother is low-risk and healthy, but chooses to wear the consumer model, without a prescription to “reassure” herself that all is well?
    • Would the physician then be required to monitor this mother, if there is no medical need and was not advised by the physician?
    • What is the physician’s liability in this case?

Claim: “We will be able to analyze this data to predict about events of pregnancy, like preterm labor, like preeclampsia and more and we will be able to intervene in the right time…”

  • Preterm labor may be able to be detected with continuous monitoring. However, the monitor is only identifying contractions. It’s not looking at vaginal discharge, cervical change, flu-like symptoms or downward pressure from the baby.
  • Would the monitor be able to tell the difference between Braxton-Hicks contractions and early labor?
    • The limited information on Nuvo Group’s website and in their press release does not provide enough information to say for sure.
  • What about those women who experience Braxton-Hicks regularly throughout pregnancy but are not in labor? Would the monitor be helpful or harmful for them in identifying mothers in preterm labor? Would they be in and out of their care provider’s offices more frequently, causing disruption to their daily lives?
  • Preeclampsia cannot be prevented at this time. So, at best, the monitor would let the mother and her care provider know that her blood pressure is high. It would not test for protein in her urine, swelling in her face, headaches, vision changes or any of the other symptoms of preeclampsia, so it’s an incomplete test. Would preeclampsia be missed because mother’s blood pressure is borderline and no other tests were administered.

Claim: Regarding monitoring high risk mothers with continuous monitoring in hospital; the monitor will benefit the health care provider by replacing a bulky machine with one that is lightweight and not connected to the wall.

  • We already have telemetry units for Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM), in many hospitals. This device is now redundant and may not integrate with the current software used to monitor the EFM units.
  • How much will this cost a hospital to replace all of their current EFM units by purchasing these PregSense clinical monitors? Is the financial outlay for a new convenience worth the expense?
  • Does the new monitor increase safety for mother and baby in comparison to traditional EFM. Is this alternative truly better for mothers and for doctors in an in-patient setting? Where are the studies that compare the two options? Is the data we get any better? Or are we still subject to human interpretation of the data in identifying the appropriate course of action?

Claim: The PregSense monitor is safer than ultrasounds that can cause tissue damage

nuvo-ritmo-beats-pregsenseAt this point in time there is no evidence and no research, to support monitoring mothers at home during pregnancy. All of the literature refers to full time electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) during labor. Therefore my assumptions are based off of that literature.

Consensus among professional and governmental groups is that, based on the evidence, intermittent auscultation is safer to use in healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies than electronic fetal monitoring (EFM).  (Heelan 2013) These professional groups include ACOG and AWHONN.

The issue with the beneficial claims made by Nuvo Group is they are in opposition to what the research finds for routine continuous EFM. Continuous EFM in low risk mothers provides no benefit for babies and increases the risk of cesarean for mothers. Therefore the whole concept of the PregSense Monitor is based on an erroneous assumption. It is not possible to prevent a problem by monitoring the baby. A problem can only be detected as it is occurring. So, even if a problem is observed while doing at home monitoring, by the time the mother makes it to the hospital it is may be too late to intervene effectively.

There is also the risk of false positive results. The monitor may detect an anomaly that then increases the mother’s fear about her baby’s well being only to be examined to find out that her baby is doing just fine, causing undue stress and panic.

The claims of the manufacturer of this product don’t hold up under current EFM guidelines and are not FDA approved.

Simplifying fetal monitoring for the care provider may not actually be the case when we look at 24/7 monitoring which still needs to be interpreted by a human being and a potentially large financial investment for a hospital that already has an EFM system that is adequate.

The claim that this product is safer than what currently exists with today’s EFM technology and ultrasonography is unsubstantiated. Without proper research, we do not know if it is safer, more harmful or neutral in relation to EFM and ultrasound as they are done today.

Resolving mother’s fears and helping her connect with the baby are at best an assumption regarding the “softer side” of the product’s results. It may be that some women do have greater piece of mind and feel a greater connection with their baby when using the device. Selling a feeling does not provide medical benefit to mother or baby. It is, however, good marketing.

The takeaway for your students is to have them look at all products with a discerning eye. Fear based marketing is insidious and plays to their emotions. They need to be making informed decisions based on accurate and evidence based information, rather than an emotional response to something that hits them in the heart.

References:

 Nuvo Group’s website

Reuters, “Wearable device provides continuous fetal monitoring”

Dekker, Rebecca, Evidence Based Fetal Monitoring, 2012

Dekker, Rebecca, What is the Evidence for Fetal Monitoring on Admission, 2012

FDA, Avoid Fetal “Keepsake” Images, Heartbeat Monitors, 2014

FDA, Ultrasound Imaging

ACOG Practice Bulletin #106, “Intrapartum Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring: Nomenclature, Interpretation, and General Management Principles,”, July 2009

ACOG press release, ACOG Refines Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring Guidelines, 2009

Lisa Heelan, MSN, FNP-BC, Fetal Monitoring: Creating a Culture of Safety With Informed Choice, J Perinat Educ. 2013 Summer; 22(3): 156–165.

 

 

 

ACOG, Babies, Fetal Monitoring, Guest Posts, Medical Interventions, News about Pregnancy , , , ,

Report Finds Widespread Global Mistreatment of Women during Childbirth

July 2nd, 2015 by avatar
© Pawan Kumar

© Pawan Kumar

The journal PLOS Medicine published a research review yesterday, “The Mistreatment of Women during Childbirth in Health Facilities Globally: A Mixed-Method Systematic Review” (Bohren, et al, 2015).  Reading this report was both disturbing and extremely sad to me. Respectful care is a part of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal Target 5A: Improve Maternal Health. – which set a goal of reducing the maternal mortality ratio (the number of deaths among women caused by pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications (maternal deaths) per 100,000 live births) by 75% from 1990 to 2015.  The target rate had been 95 pregnancy or childbirth related deaths per 100,000 women but the current rate is sitting at 210/100,000, which is just a 45% drop.  99% of all maternal deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries, where resources are limited and access to safe, acceptable, good quality sexual and reproductive health care, including maternity care, is not available to many women during their childbearing year. The most common cause of these maternal deaths are postpartum hemorrhage, postpartum infection, obstructed labors and blood pressure issues – all conditions considered very preventable or treatable with access to quality care and trained birth attendants.

Analysis of reports examined in this paper indicate that “many women globally experience poor treatment during childbirth, including abusive, neglectful, or disrespectful care.” This treatment can further complicate the situation downstream, by creating a disincentive for women to seek care from these facilities and providers in future pregnancies.

The reports and studies that were reviewed to create this report obtained their information from direct observation, interviews with women under care,  and were self-reported by the mothers.  Follow-up surveys were also conducted.

From the qualitative research, investigators were able to classify the mistreatment  into seven categories:

  1. physical abuse
  2. sexual abuse
  3. verbal abuse
  4. stigma and discrimination
  5. failure to meet professional standards of care
  6. poor rapport between women and providers
  7. health system conditions and constraints

The quantitative research revealed two themes: sexual abuse and the performance of unconsented surgical operations.

World Bank Photo Collection http://flickr.com/photos/worldbank/7556637184 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

It is no surprise that women’s experiences were negatively impacted by the mistreatment they received during their maternity care treatment period.  Some of the treatment was one on one – from the care provider to the mother, while other inappropriate treatment was on a facility level.

Investigation of the treatment of women during pregnancy and childbirth was conducted because it is known that care by a qualified attendant can significantly impact maternal mortality, but if women are disinclined to seek out appropriate care due to a fear of mistreatment, help is not available or utilized and mortality rates rise.  Removing this obstacle is key to reducing maternal deaths.

Prior experiences and perceptions of mistreatment, low expectations of the care provided at facilities, and poor reputations of facilities in the community have eroded many women’s trust in the health system and have impacted their decision to deliver in health facilities in the future, particularly in low- and middle-income countries Some women may consider childbirth in facilities as a last resort, prioritizing the culturally appropriate and supportive care received from traditional providers in their homes over medical intervention. These women may desire home births where they can deliver in a preferred position, are able to cry out without fear of punishment, receive no surgical intervention, and are not physically restrained. – Bohren, et al.

Women who are mistreated during childbirth obviously reflects a quality of care issue, but also a larger scale- a fundamental human rights issue.  International standards are clear that this is not acceptable.  The researchers encourage the use of their finding to assist in the development of measurement tools that can be used to inform policies, standards and improvement programs.

We must seek to find a process by which women and health care providers engage to promote and protect women’s participation in safe and positive childbirth experiences. A woman’s autonomy and dignity during childbirth must be respected, and her health care providers should promote positive birth experiences through respectful, dignified, supportive care, as well as by ensuring high-quality clinical care. – Bohren, et al.

I encourage you to read the study for a thorough review of the research findings.  The information is difficult to fully take in. Additionally, a companion paper  – “Mistreatment of Women in Childbith: Time for Action on this Important Dimension of Violence against Women” provides further information.  The New York Times covered this topic in their June 30th Health Section. The World Health Organization also covered this report and has a statement on this issue, endorsed by over 80 organizations, including Lamaze International.  The WHO also has a list of videos on the topic of abuse and mistreatment of women during pregnancy and childbirth that can be found here.

References

Bohren MA, Vogel JP, Hunter EC, Lutsiv O, Makh SK, Souza JP, et al. (2015) The Mistreatment of Women during Childbirth in Health Facilities Globally: A Mixed-Methods Systematic Review. PLoS Med 12(6): e1001847. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001847

Jewkes R, Penn-Kekana L (2015) Mistreatment of Women in Childbirth: Time for Action on This Important Dimension of Violence against Women. PLoS Med 12(6): e1001849. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001849

Do No Harm, Maternal Mortality, Maternal Mortality Rate, Maternal Quality Improvement, Maternity Care, New Research, News about Pregnancy, Research , , , , , ,

Lamaze International Launches Free Pregnancy to Parenting Mobile App to Support Families

June 8th, 2015 by avatar

Free new app!Lamaze International is delighted to announce the launch of their new “Pregnancy to Parenting” mobile app for families.  This just released app is meant to be a comprehensive evidence based resource for people to use during the childbearing year and is free to anyone who downloads it.  In addition to sharing customized information about their pregnancies, the app also provides tips and information for labor and birth and then continues to support families after birth as they feed and care for their new baby.  85% of millennials are heavily reliant on their smartphones for both information as well as entertainment throughout the day.  Lamaze International, well-recognized as the leader in childbirth education, meets today’s parents where they are at (on their smart phones) with this well designed, well thought-out app that takes families from conception all the way into their first weeks and months of parenting!

After downloading the app from either the Apple App store or from Google Play, parents can get weekly information about their pregnancy, updates on what baby development looks like that week and even access fun lighthearted facts that are entertaining as well as interesting. Daily tips, relevant articles, and Q&As are also included.

The “Pregnancy to Parenting” app lets pregnant families find a Lamaze class near them (make sure your information is up to date in your membership profile!  We will discuss how to access and update your profile in a post here on Thursday), maintain a calendar that tracks their CBE classes, doctor or midwife appointments, and even create a pregnancy journal with notes, videos and pictures.LI_MobileAppScreenshots5

As labor begins, there is a handy contraction timer and parents can access evidence based information about what to expect during labor and birth as well as useful tips, for example – information on the importance of moving around and changing positions as labor continues to progress.

After birth, parents can use the useful breastfeeding and diaper tracker as they head into the wonderful but exhausting first days and weeks with their newborn.  There is also information on postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, what to look for and how to get help.

The content in the “Pregnancy to Parenting” mobile app was prepared and approved by Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators just like you, and delivered in a thorough and easy to navigate app that looks great and functions well on today’s mobile devices.

As the “Pregnancy to Parenting” mobile app gets introduced to expectant and new parents, Lamaze International is offering educators and other birth professionals an opportunity to participate in a 60 minute webinar: Utilizing the New Lamaze Mobile App – Pregnancy to Parenting, facilitated by former Lamaze President Michelle Deck, RN, MEd, BSN, LCCE, FACCE on Tuesday, June 9th at 1:00 PM EDT.  The purpose of this webinar is to share information with childbirth educators on the app’s content and functionality as well as suggest how educators can introduce the mobile app to families and incorporate the app in their classrooms.  You can register now for this informative session.

LI_MobileAppScreenshots3Lamaze International has prepared an educator resource kit to help you spread the word about the new “Pregnancy to Parenting” mobile app that includes flyers for your classroom and workplace, a friendly email that you can use to introduce the app to your students and community and even PowerPoint slides that can be integrated into your classroom curriculum.  Learn more about the mobile app and these resources here on the resource kit page of the Lamaze International website.

Lamaze International wants to offer the families you work with (and all families) access to additional information that supports what they are already learning in their Lamaze class.  Having access to resources that provide evidence based information in a format that today’s families are used to accessing helps families to have a safe and healthy birth and make decisions that support healthy mothers, healthy babies and healthy families.  Making it easy for families to find a Lamaze class in their area, when they have not yet signed up for childbirth classes, helps educators to reach more families and benefits educators by directing those families right to you! The new “Pregnancy to Parenting” mobile app is a great tool for families and educators a like.  Head over to the app store of your choice and download the app, so you can become familiar with it and will be ready to share with the families that you work with.  See you in the webinar!

Babies, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Lamaze International, Lamaze News, News about Pregnancy, Pregnancy to Parenting Mobile App , , , ,

Online Course- “Labor Pain Management: Techniques for Comfort & Coping” Goes Live

February 24th, 2015 by avatar

online course adLamaze International is very pleased to announce the release of their fourth and newest online Lamaze childbirth education course for expectant families.  This newest offering, “Labor Pain Management: Techniques for Comfort and Coping” provides families with coping skills for all the stages and phases of labor, from early labor right through pushing and birth.  All of the Lamaze International online courses are interactive, filled with great photographs and graphics, and based on the most current evidence.  You can read more about the previous courses that were released in this post from November, 2014.  Our first online course: Safe and Healthy Birth: Six Simple Steps was released in early 2014 when Lamaze unveiled the Online Parent Learning Center.

Lamaze International expanding into online childbirth education

The Lamaze International Strategic Framework 2014-2017 that resulted from in-depth strategic planning meetings held in 2014 with the Board of Directors and Lamaze management resulted in many forward thinking, comprehensive and courageous goals, including plans to “innovate education and expand to the childbearing years” by:

  • reaching more women earlier and more frequently throughout childbearing years,
  • expanding delivery methods for online education (e.g., virtual classes, Facetime consults, and mobile apps), and
  • developing a strategy to broaden outreach at the electronic level and cultivate moms ‘up’ the ladder for more personalized services and training.

Labor Pain Management: Techniques for Comfort and Coping

The course description lets families know that “labor and birth require a lot of physical and mental preparation. As you get ready for your upcoming birth, you will want to have a variety of comfort measures and coping techniques in your labor toolbox so that you and your support team can be as prepared as possible. Learning helpful labor positions and strategies to promote labor progress will allow your body to work with your baby toward a safe and healthy birth. Lamaze International has created this class to provide you with the information and skills you will need to minimize discomfort and labor confidently.”

The voice over sections with the birth story were particularly helpful in making me feel like others have gone through this – so I can too.” – online course participant.

The class objectives

After completing this class learners will be able to:

  • Use learned relaxation skills suitable for early labor
  • Practice a variety of comfort techniques that minimize active labor discomfort
  • Understand back labor and how to cope with back pain while encouraging baby to turn
  • Plan for transition with effective labor strategies
  • Learn the top positions for pushing that open the pelvis and shorten the pushing time

Practice makes perfect

Interactive activities invite parents to practice coping activities, breathing skills and different positions alone and with a partner to see what might work for them in labor.  They can also follow along with a birth story from start to finish, woven throughout the course, to see how a new family applied the skills covered in the course at their own birth.  Families are encouraged to stop and practice newly learned techniques and note what they think will work well for them in labor.  The sections of the course detail what is happening physiologically during each phase and offers suggestions for emotional and physical  coping and comfort techniques that might be helpful.  Families are introduced to positions and activities to practice as they near the end of their pregnancies, so they are familiar with them prior to labor beginning.  The course builds confidence in the pregnant person that they will have many helpful techniques to try, and demonstrates the important role of the birth partner and other support people who will be in attendance.  There is also information about how to continue to promote labor progress should a woman choose to have an epidural.

I loved how easy the online format was, and I completed the entire class with my husband, who learned a lot about his role in birth supporting me. – online course participant.

This self-paced class is accessible on both desktop and mobile devices, and discussion forums built into the course encourage community building and online engagement with other families.

Class participants are able to repeat the course material as often as they wish and fun quizzes spaced throughout reinforce their learning.  At the end of the course, families are provided with the benefits of taking an in-person online class, and directed to the “Find a Lamaze Class” section of the parent website to locate a class in their area.

Online courses still to come in 2015 include Parenting Together: Starting Off Strong and Prepared for Pregnancy: Start Off Right, which are still in development.  Existing classes that are available now are:

  • Labor Pain Management: Techniques for Comfort and Coping
  • VBAC: Informed and Ready
  • Breastfeeding Basics: From Birth to Back to Work
  • Safe and Healthy Birth: Six Simple Steps

To learn more about this newest addition to the Lamaze International online course catalogue, preview the courses and persuse all the offerings, please visit the online course catalog.

Childbirth Education, Lamaze International, News about Pregnancy , , , ,

You’re Invited to Lamaze International’s Next Twitter Chat: Prenatal Fitness

August 19th, 2014 by avatar
perinatal fitness

CC http://flickr.com/photos/cumidanciki/7807501656

Won’t you consider joining Lamaze International’s President Elect, Robin Elise Weiss, as she hosts our next Twitter Chat on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 9:00-10:00 PM EST.  The topic to be discussed is prenatal fitness and you can find the party at #LamazeChat.  You will want to put this event on your own calendar as well as share with your clients and students via social media, so everyone can benefit from the fast moving discussion that will no doubt be filled with facts and information that everyone can use.

Perinatal Fitness expert Catherine Cram, M.S.,  owner of Comprehensive Fitness Consulting shares some tips that will be discussed further during the Twitter chat. Childbirth educators may find it useful to share this information when discussing fitness and exercises in your childbirth classes.

• The key to getting the greatest benefits with prenatal exercise for both mom and baby are to continue to workout to the end of the pregnancy.

• Research has shown that women who continue to exercise throughout pregnancy gain less weight, have reduced complications during labor and delivery and return to pre-pregnancy weight faster than those that don’t exercise.

Tips for sticking with exercise during all trimesters:

• Try to include several types of exercise, from walking to swimming or biking and mix it up so mothers don’t overwork muscles and joints.

• Break up workouts into two sessions of a shorter duration if fatigue makes it tough to maintain the usual routine.

• The exercise intensity level should stay within a range that feels challenging, but not so hard that a mother is out of breath.  We use what’s called the “talk test” with prenatal exercise, which simply means that a mother should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising, and if she can’t, then she is working too hard.

• As pregnancy progresses it’s as if women are wearing a backpack that gets heavier each week.  Keep this in mind when workouts seem to be getting harder- the workout is a lot tougher even at the same intensity at 30 weeks than at 15 weeks. Modify routines as needed to keep workout level within safe limits.

• Make sure to add some upper body strength training to the workout.  Mothers will need that strength for all the lifting required with baby care.  Keep in mind that all someone needs to do for strength gains is one set of 10-12 repetitions of a weight.  Exercise bands are a great way to do strength training, and they’re inexpensive and easy to use.

• Buddy up with a friend for fitness sessions. Encourage class members to plan exercise sessions together outside of class.  They will be a lot more successful with maintaining a fitness routine when they are partnered or in a fitness group, and it makes the time go a lot faster.

twitter logoTwitter Chats are a fun way to connect with both families and other educators from all over, learn more about the topic, Prenatal Fitness, share resources and enjoy a pleasant discussion.  Robin Weiss is a skilled facilitator who makes every Twitter Chat she hosts a totally enjoyable event. New to participating in a Twitter chat? Check out this article for information on how to participate and get the most out of your experience. Don’t be shy about jumping in.  Your participation will be totally welcomed! See you August 21st at 9PM EST!  Tweet, tweet!

 

 

 

Childbirth Education, Lamaze International, News about Pregnancy , , , , , ,

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