Through the looking glass
Alumna and senior maternal and fetal health lecturer, Fiona Denison talks to us about why a new tool designed to make water births safer is the perfect marriage of research and hands on experience.
When Tommy’s, the charity who conduct research into pregnancy problems, opened a centre at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh in 2008, three time Edinburgh graduate Dr Fiona Denison saw an opportunity to continue research that began with an integrated honours year in microbiology and continued with a 3 year training fellowship focused on issues surrounding childbirth and labour.
From bench to bedside
At Tommy’s Fiona was able to conduct more patient-orientated research, working directly with midwives and gaining a detailed understanding of their work and challenges.
One such challenge revolves around midwives and the process involved in assisting with water births. Around 48,000 women in the UK have a water birth every year. Experts say that giving birth in a water pool is an effective form of pain relief and helps many women to feel in control during labour.
During labour a midwife needs to see when a baby’s head crowns and the current method for doing this during a water birth requires two instruments - a torch and a submerged mirror. It is an awkward process that is strenuous for the midwife and undignified for the mother.
Babies not bombs
Inspired by the mirrors used to check the underside of vehicles for bombs, the EASI Birth Mirror has lights around its frame and is mounted securely on a flexible pole.
With Fiona as the project lead, it has been developed with midwives at NHS Lothian Birth Centre in Edinburgh, and engineers and product designers at Heriot Watt University and Loughborough University.
As a senior lecturer and researcher, being involved in something tangible and visual is extremely rewarding.
Funding and your support
EASI Mirror has been funded to date by the Edinburgh and Lothian Health Foundation, Tommy’s and the University of Edinburgh and has been supported by Edinburgh BioQuarter.
Fiona and her team now hope to secure further funding to manufacture the mirror so that clinical trials to test it can begin.
If you are interested in supporting this work then you can donate online by following the secure link below.