Roma Birth Wheel Experience in Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia

As I comfortably and easily got up to look after Maisey a few hours after she was born I thanked God not only for my perfect little girl but also for my luck in being under the care of Dr Jemilah Mahmood in Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital. Dr Jemilah introduced the Roma Birth Wheel, which, for me at least, was the most amazing experience.

The Roma Birth Wheel is a chair on which to give birth on. It was invented by Paul Degen in Switzerland after six years of study. The design is based on the traditional natural birthing positions of women in Central Africa, using gravity to enable an easier birth. It gives freedom of movement for the mother and Doctor.

It is difficult to describe the Roma Birth Wheel and it is not really fully appreciated just by seeing it either. You have to get in it, swing around, fiddle with the remote controls and generally get comfortable to appreciate it.

The Wheel is like two horse shoes on either side of a suspended. It has

- A contoured, comfortable seat that is suspended on ropes so that you can rock in rhythm with contractions
- A heat pack to ease back ache
- A remote control, which the Mum controls of course, so that the chair can be tilted backwards or forwards or up and down
- Adjustable head rest
- Adjustable suspended straps for the feet
- A strong frame on which Mum can hold onto during contractions and when pushing or rest her feet on
- Access from all four sides so that Dad can hug Mum from behind or to sit or stand right next to her

The Wheel allows so many positions and freedom of choice that each Mum, with her different pains and body shape, is able to find the most relaxing position for her. Because the pelvic floor is free, Dr Jemilah is able to have the correct angle and height of the seat to check progress, deliver the baby and placenta and even undertake an episiotomy . Fetal and contraction monitoring can be carried out easily.

For me the amazing thing about the Wheel was the heat pack at the back. When you have chronic lower back ache in contractions it is the most wonderful relief. The position of the chair and its gentle rocking seemed the most natural way to relax through a contraction.

With the Wheel I felt that the contractions were manageable for most of the time. I had Pethidine only at 7pm with Maisey born at 10.19 p.m. If I had had to give birth on a hard bed I would have yelled for an epidural by mid afternoon. It was not until a couple of hours before she was born that the pain became as uncomfortable as it had been all those hours earlier in my room.

There are currently 200 Wheels in use world wide. Dr Jemilah's is the only one in Asia, apart from Japan. Since she and Dr Ashar bought it in July 1998, 65 babies have been born on it. It costs an additional RM250 to use it.

I hope that I have not put first time Mums off with all this talk of pain. But the Wheel is worth considering as a great way to ease the less pleasant side of giving birth to our dear little babies.

If we are not in Malaysia when no. 2 is born I just might insist that we fly back. The thought of me having to go through a birth without the Wheel and Dr Jemilah is pretty scary.

Emma Davidson

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