Promising Innovations for Maternal Newborn Health from WD2016

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By: Jacquelyn Caglia, Associate Director, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The 2016 Women Deliver Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark just wrapped up and we are left feeling inspired and invigorated. The conference was a wonderful chance to reconnect with colleagues, meet fellow champions for women and girls, and learn about exciting developments in the field of maternal newborn health.

One of the most promising projects showcased was the Lab.our Ward. This interdisciplinary collaboration led by M4ID has proposed several innovations to the labor and delivery ward to improve intrapartum care in low-resource settings. From simple color-coding of the different phases of a woman’s delivery experience to strategic design of spaces and equipment, this Birth In Progress innovation has the potential to optimize maternal health practices.

Proposals to Improve Labor and Delivery

Using a human-centered design process, Lab.our Ward has developed several solutions to common difficulties in service design, product design, and architecture:

  • Smart Service Design
    The Lab.our Ward system includes a digital check-in upon arrival to facilitate quick registration and rapid assessment of urgency. It also has a hands-free device for providers to record critical timestamps and Apgar scores.
  • Innovative Architecture
    The Lab.our Ward team has proposed several architectural details that support optimal client flow as well as space for a companion. The architects also suggested several measures to support privacy and safety as well as improved construction principles to support ventilation and sustainability.
  • Functional Products
    They have developed an improved delivery bed to ensure that women are comfortable in a variety of positions as well as a clean, easy-to-transport delivery stool.  Lab.our Ward has also created several products that can be added to current postnatal beds to keep a woman and her newborn close.

The Lab.our Ward innovations have been designed with women and healthcare providers in India, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. We look forward to closely monitoring this project to see what happens once these improvements are deployed!

If you were at Women Deliver, what did you think of the #BirthInProgress Exhibition? How can we collaborate to facilitate safe delivery for mothers and newborns?