A good example of this occurred today. The Australian newspaper reported that the Australian Stillbirth Foundation had teamed with a San Francisco 'start up' Bloomlife to provide some funding for the development of a wearable device to help provide a “early warning for mothers to seek urgent attention if there is a reduction in their baby’s movement” and that this would be done by taking “research out of the lab.”
While at face value this is probably a good thing I hope the promised “early warning” has been thoroughly thought through and to be frank I have my doubts. Certainly there is never anything wrong with an aide BUT technology must never… EVER be relied on at the expense of a mothers skills and intuition and here is why:
Getting to know your baby and your baby’s movements is complex. A well baby moves frequently, strongly and to a pattern, therefore if the device is going to be at all helpful it needs to somehow recognise these 3 elements that make up fetal well being. I’m not saying it cant or it wont but its going to need to be a very smart device indeed if it can actually learn each individual baby’s pattern of movement, note any changes in strength and also learn the individual baby’s pattern of behaviour such as if the baby is a morning or an evening person, always moves at mum’s bedtime, if he or she always responds to music, touch etc etc and if any of those elements change that the mum can also be warned.
If, as I suspect this device, is set to detect less than a certain number of movements in a set time period (say 10 in 2 hours) and warns the mum that her baby hasn’t done this then that doesn’t allow AT ALL for the baby individuality such as one who is constantly moving and the baby who NEVER moves that much. Such that for the mum of the baby who is a constant mover to be warned the movement would have to fall to a dangerously low amount for that baby and likewise the mum whose baby is a slug and never moves that much will be constantly receiving warnings.
So while this innovation is pretty exciting and points us all towards understanding that fetal movements are important in pregnancy I, for one, am dubious that such a device could, or indeed, should replace the vigilant pregnant mum. So I’m still for promoting that the mum get to know her baby and immediately report changes in her baby’s behaviour (not only frequency but also strength and pattern). IF technology can assist with this then all the better but ONLY if it is understood that all mums, irrespective of technology, are in the best position to know their unborn baby best.