Birthing Support for Midwives and Mothers - Ergonomic Testing and Product Development

Nina Nevala 1, 2, *, Ritva Ketola 1, 3
1 Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Ergonomics and Usability, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, FI-00250 Helsinki, Finland
2 University of Jyväskylä, Department of Health Sciences, Box 35, FI-40014 University of Jyväskylä, Finland
3 Eidos Ltd, Helsinki, Finland

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Ketola et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Ergonomics and Usability, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, FI-00250 Helsinki, Finland; Tel: 040 7344166, 030 4742277; E-mail:



To further develop an ergonomic birthing support for increasing comfortable postures for midwives and mothers during deliveries

Methods and Results:

First, the prototype of the birthing support and six birthing postures were tested with 8 midwives, 2 physicians, and 10 pregnant women in the last month of their pregnancy using visual analogue scales (VASs) and the System Usability Scale (SUS). According to the midwives and mothers, the best birthing postures were those with the mother sitting on the birthing support with the bed crosswise or the mother laying on her side on the bed with her leg on the birthing support. In the second stage of the study, 4 experts carried out an expert evaluation, and the company implemented several development points for the prototype. In the third stage, the developed birthing support was tested in 20 live births in two hospitals in Finland. The participants (n=28) were 8 midwives and 20 pregnant women. The work postures, musculoskeletal strain, and the midwives’ ability to see the work object were analysed. The midwives worked more with a straight back and perceived lower physical strain when the birthing support was used than in the traditional deliveries. The use of the birthing support also provided a better view of the emerging baby and perineum.


Use of the birthing support increased the adjustability of the midwives work environment and decreased their musculoskeletal exposure at work. The results of this study can be used in developing both the ergonomic work of midwives and comfortable birthing postures for mothers.

Keywords: Birth, birthing support, delivery, ergonomics, midwife, usability.