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Trust in the machine: Intrapartum fetal monitoring in Swedish birthing practices
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Human Work Science.
2009 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Since the 1970s, the predominant method of fetal monitoring during labour has been cardiotocography (CTG) which measures fetal heart rates. Recently, a new device has been introduced which adds an analysis of the fetus' echocardiogram (STAN) to the work of assessing the fetus' oxygen uptake during labour. The paper describes how the device becomes both a producer of safety while simultaneously creating an increased focus on potential risk. On the one hand there is scientific evidence that STAN provides better odds for a healthy outcome, yet it does so by shifting attention away from the woman-in-labour to the machine, which midwives find problematic. The paper investigates reconfigurations of midwives' trust in the new electronic fetal monitor in gauging the health of the fetus during labour. In so doing, it seeks to describe how this new device is involved in the construction and management of safety in the birth process. The paper builds on participant observation performed in 2006 at a Swedish birthing clinic where the device had recently been introduced, interviews with midwives working there, as well as analysis of a variety of documentary data concerning reported problems with the device.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Research subject
Gender and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-40354Local ID: f7206900-9739-11de-8da0-000ea68e967bOAI: diva2:1013876
Nordic Medical Anthropology Conference : 11/06/2009 - 13/06/2009
Godkänd; 2009; 20090901 (petjon)Available from: 2016-10-03 Created: 2016-10-03Bibliographically approved

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