The High-Tech Roma Birth Wheel

On rocks in the Central Sahara are the oldest known paintings of childbirth. Dating back about 10,000 years, they depict a standing mother giving birth. Later, around 2,500 BC, in ancient Egypt, women used a "birth stone" for delivery. Modern women are going back to these natural origins with the newest invention from Switzerland, the Roma Birth Wheel.

It looks more like a science-fiction ride than a serious medical breakthrough, but it may actually change childbirth as we know it. Fortunately, this modern delivery-chair replaced the rock of yore with a comfortable cushioned seat, and a built-in motor which allows the seat to recline to any angle. It promises easier childbirth with decreased discomfort, thanks to the help of gravity.

The Roma birth wheel is already in use in more than 100 clinics throughout Europe and Japan, and due to an encouraging response, its use is spreading. Still, the Birth Wheel has been slower coming to America, perhaps because of its relatively high price of Sfr. 40,000.

The inventor, Paul Degen, is an avid fan, not just because he designed it, but because of his first-hand experience. It was named after the first baby born using the wheel - his little daughter Roma.

Swiss American Review, July 24, 1996