Home birthing is a common practice among Filipino women. While some do not have the means to give birth in a hospital or clinic due to geography and resources, others want to welcome their baby without medical interventions due to religious and cultural concerns.
“As designers and engineers, we hope to see more human-centered design solutions, which goes beyond simply a new discovery or technology, and look towards addressing real problems that respond to real domestic needs.” says Gian Andrei Fabia, one of the inventors of reBIRTH
Home birthing practices also vary between Filipino cultures, some choose to birth on the floor instead of a bed and others choose to birth while squatting instead of lying down. As most obstetric beds do not offer a variety of birthing positions, it forces a woman in labour to be in a laid down position that is inconsistent with the natural physiology of birthing.
Given the lack of options for women to birth in their most comfortable position due to the limitations of conventional obstetric beds, the winner of this year’s Philippines National James Dyson Award decided to design a women-centered birthing tool to make labour more comfortable.
reBIRTH, invented by a group of students from University of the Philippines (Diliman), with backgrounds in Engineering and Law, is a birthing tool that accommodates up to two configurations and nine birthing positions. Aside from its versatile exterior, reBIRTH’s interior is made up of two layers of foam: coconut coir for support and polyurethane for comfort, both of which are easy to procure. Its exterior is covered by waterproof olefin fabric, making it easy to clean. As reBIRTH taps into by-product from natural sources – particularly coconut coir and olefin fibre, this reduces waste and allows for easy replacement when the materials deteriorate. Using these materials also lowers the unit cost, making it accessible to areas that are underserved by proper maternal services, such far-flung island villages.
The team is currently looking into filing for patent protection and sourcing materials from local Filipino manufacturers and suppliers to make the fabrication of rebirth a sustainable one. Apart from their plans to launch reBIRTH commercially, the team also intends to use their invention to advocate for positive birthing experiences for new mothers.
The James Dyson competition is open to student inventors with the ability and ambition to solve the problems of tomorrow. Winning solutions are selected by Sir James Dyson and show ingenuity, iterative development and commercial viability. With students from 27 markets and regions now competing, the award is set to welcome new approaches to a broader range of global issues than ever before.
“The entries we received this year from the Philippines are remarkably strong. What I think sets young Filipino inventors apart is their ability to marry innovation with a strong sense of social consciousness – care for local communities, and care for the environment. They engineer solutions to real problems in their communities,” shares Philip Stephens, Head of Research Design & Development (RDD) at Dyson Philippines, and member of the JDA Philippines judging panel.
Since the competition first opened fifteen years ago, the iconic inventor has already contributed over £1m to championing boundary-breaking concepts. To help finalists to develop their novel idea, each year the International winner is awarded £30,000, and National winners in each participating region receive £2,000. Unlike other competitions, participants are given full autonomy over their intellectual property. Now for 2020, Sir James has introduced another international prize: The Sustainability winner, who will also receive £30,000 in prize money.
“We believe that young design engineers have the ability to innovate and develop solutions that can change lives. The James Dyson Award provide this platform for those who think differently to create products that work better, to share their inventions with the world. And we want to reward those who have the persistence and tenacity to develop their ideas.”closes Mr. James Dyson.
The James Dyson Award forms part of a wider commitment by Sir James Dyson, to demonstrate the power of engineers to change the world. The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, the James Dyson Foundation and James Dyson Award embody a vision to empower aspiring engineers, encouraging them to apply their theoretical knowledge and discover new ways to improve lives through technology and design engineering.
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