designer develops portable emergency birth kit that could save thousands of lives

designer develops portable emergency birth kit that could save thousands of lives

each year, thousands of women die due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. the risk is even greater for displaced and refugee women and children living in poverty and unsanitary conditions without access to antenatal or obstetric care. to provide the comfort and safety during the crucial time of childbirth, iranian designers ghazal sarmast, setareh hosseinpour motlagh and hamed mehrabi have developed ‘genesis’, a portable emergency birth kit.

ghazal sarmast birth kit designboom




every detail and compartment of the designers’ project helps the birthing process be safe and similar to the real hospital’s labor room for the mother, newborn, and caregiver. in response to the needs of the poor countries, where women simply don’t have access to hospitals and have problems with giving birth very frequently, the package has been designed from lightweight materials with considerable strength and stability.

ghazal sarmast birth kit designboom



the size of the packed kit is about a medium luggage (max. 6 kg), easy to carry on, stackable and totally waterproof to facilitate cleaning. in addition to the foldable labor bed, essential delivery tools and cleaning supplies placed safely. the project is the winner of the reddot award 2018.

ghazal sarmast birth kit designboom


ghazal sarmast birth kit designboom

project info:


designer: ghazal sarmast

design team: setareh hosseinpour motlagh, hamed mehrabi

  • This actually makes me sad in so many ways. The invisible, faceless woman that demonstrates the function of this design is appropriate.
    This tool puts the user in one of the most unnatural and humiliating birthing positions, completely ignoring the way women’s bodies work.
    A more woman-friendly design might have brought the birthing stool into modernity, replacing the midwife needed to catch the baby in ancient times.
    Instead this design furthers the notion that pregnancy should be treated like a disease that only modern medical standards can properly treat.
    I’m not mad at the sleek, compact, attractively styled design. I’m just disappointed that this was awarded and celebrated as a win for women and their babies.

    Cas says:
  • Probably the most uncomfortable position to give birth (but comfortable for the doctor).

    Armand says:
  • Sadly rhe designer forgot to dig into the science regarding Brth positions or to ask women and midwives! I do like the idea but the product is not appropriate.

    Midwife says:
  • One of the worst positions for women to give birth, with the highest risk for severe birth lacerations. But eventually an idea for offroad gynecologists or for suturing birth injuries.

    P. Kjersti says:
  • Amen

    Mark Warden says:
  • Obviously designed by someone that has never given birth. How is this thing winning awards?

    Bea says:
  • The fact this design won an award shows total ignorance about how child birth actually works.

    Mark says:
  • Women give birth safely in many many many positions other than this one all over the world. It might work well for suturing but not for birth.

    Tracy Donegan says:
  • It appears the designer has added 2+2 and come up with 25. He actually believes mothers and babies die because they dont have obstetric beds or have thier legs in lithotomy. The sad thing about this design is a complete lack of understanding of the physiology of childbirth. Rather than ‘saving lives this would create more risks leading to increased morbidity and mortality. This is backed by empirical high quality research from around the world that highlights the absolute need to promote non supine positions and spontaneous position change. Mothers and babies don’t die because they are not strapped into a bed with legs in lithotomy…the position this device promotes, they are however much more at risk by being in this position. Perhaps some basic understanding of the physiology of childbirth would have helped to inform the device as a usable never mind beneficial product.

    Cass McNamara says:
  • Only a male designer could come up with something so uncomfortable, unnatural and weird. Also, as the journalist featuring this bizarre product, do some research into birth positions that are actually conducive to labor before touting this piece of crap as “lifesaving”. Do you actually know WHY women are dying in labor? It’s not because someone doesn’t have this ridiculous contraption. Do your research, for example, into positions that would protect a woman’s pelvic floor and make it easier for baby to come out. Active, upright birth, not lying on one’s back with feet in stirrups, is the evidence based way. This is so obviously a male designed product, and by promoting it you are showing your ignorance of female physiology and birth. Shame on you.

    Sylvie says:
  • Great job Ghazal khanom

    Matin says:
  • I think this is an absurd design to assist childbirth. A mother in labour needs access to a cleaner, uninterupted place , not by strapping her on some weird device.

    Eda says:
  • This is for Dr.’s use only. No woman needs this in the majority of situations. I am against the unnecessary use of stirrups in my own birthing practices as a midwife. The woman should be the focus not just her perineum. An F grade from this health care professional, it’s the ultimate in equipment no one asked for.

    Emily Campbell Jones says:
  • It’s not only the most uncomfortable position to give birth (but comfortable for the doctor), it’s unsafe and not recommended position according to WHO.

    Yevgeniya says:
  • This design is not conducive to giving birth. It is designed for physician comfort. Women need to be able to kneel or be on hands and knees to give birth not in stirrups. Stirrups have no place in a normal vaginal birth. If you want to design something that is effective, try designing something that has a water purifier in it like people use when they go hiking in the Pacific Northwest. Something to wash things without having to have chemicals or replace parts. Midwives need to be able to cut things without having them get rusty like the crappy razor blades people send out. Midwives need to be able to suture and wash their hands. You aren’t thinking about birth with this design, you are thinking about replicating a hospital setting and that’s not the same thing. Contact mercy in action or one of the other Charities that actually works in these areas to discuss what these women actually need.

    Shannon Mitchell says:
  • A birth stool would be more effective for pushing baby out and still fit into that suitcase ! Gravity is a friend!

    Rebecca says:
  • The WORST position for a woman to birth in! Who’s emergency is this? A woman would be better off choosing her position instinctively (as she would anyway) this seems more like an emergency obstetrician’s kit- this position was made popular so obstetricians could see and intervene in the birthing process. This is a total miss.

    Lulu says:
  • This design takes all that is wrong in hospital birth. Women don’t need this and it is not safe at all!

    Anna says:
  • I appreciate that someone somewhere it trying to help but actually what they do with this is potentially cause more harm! Birthing on a bed in lithotomy, the most uncomfortable position and goes against physiology!! Also what’tools’ are being provided? Considering it’s mentioned these are aimed at places without skills professionals? So you think giving them tools they are untrained to use and putting women in unnatural birthing positions prednisone to cause harm when unnecessary is OK because they are living in a place of poverty??? This is just ludicrous!!

    Midwife says:
  • I appreciate that someone spent the time to think about displaced and low resource women in birth. The portable needs for women birthing in these countries are medications for hemorrhage, antibiotics against infection, and sutures. I agree that the position a woman births in has never been the cause for maternal deaths. This suitcase is great for repairs but not for birth. Especially a difficult birth where you need to move the mother quickly to help reposition the baby

    NurseMidwife says:
  • This is the stupidest thing I’ve seen. Good lord, I am shaking my head so hard it might fly off. Please don’t fund this for production. Is is worse than useless for childbirth in developing countries or disaster areas. Please, if you want to help reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, do these things:
    *fund access to midwives for prenatal care
    *get them access to adequate nutrition and clean water throughout their pregnancies
    *for cases that have predicted abnormalities, birth with a skilled attendant
    *appropriate and ongoing postnatal care to ensure breastfeeding is going well
    *strict enforcement of formula marketing rules

    If you want to put anything in a kit, just do sterile gloves, thermal blankets, sterile suturing tools and some kind of drug to treat postpartum hemorrhage.

    Christina Kimont says:
  • Omg… Seriously? Do you really think that what women need to have a safe birth is to be put in stirrups?? This is a piece of garbage!! There are so many things that a woman might need if she needs help to give birth, this isn’t one of them!!

    Ana says:
  • To all the ladies and gentlemen who probably misunderstood the background of the ‘anticipated use’ of this birthing chair

    SORRY, I disagree with most of you.
    I see this development as a real enrichment to the many women in underdeveloped countries; some of which live several hundred kilometers away from a ‘normal’ place of delivering a baby (at best a hospital) and cannot make it to the place where they want to deliver in time for actual delivery. Just think of the cases we hear of a woman having to deliver right on the street or alley; and there are many!
    Is it not better to give the women a (sealed) trolley just few weeks before the presumptive delivery date, which they then have on hand during the sometimes-long hours journey to the hospital and have the opportunity to have at least a basic equipment available? It is an EMERGENCY DELIVERY KIT!
    As ‘on-board’ basic equipment I see here … sterile wrapped sheets, cloths and any necessary instruments (scissors / tweezers, measuring blood pressure and pulse). Even a SOS / GPS tracker might help. On other publications I have seen, that GENESIS has even emergency oxygen in it.
    Separating the upper and lower shell of the suitcase (backrest and seat divided) is allowing other, as shown here, individual birth giving positions.
    Surely the designers (may I call them here ‘idea generator?) thought about a pictorial representation on how to use this.
    I hope you will agree with me, that with the help of this project the ratio of women und babies not surviving the delivery can be decreased. Particular in war and disaster areas. Nothing for you and me at home.

    Ralf Schreckling says:
  • More like a portable torture device! And medical professionals actually signed off on this?? Are we so far removed from evidence-based medicine, the needs of women and babies, and the ACTUAL causes of morbidity and mortality surrounding childbirth? The only thing more sad than this dreadful, sleek mistake of modernity is that resources and attention that could be used to ACTUALLY help women and their babies are being diverted to this. All I can hope is that this error results in correction.

    Anne says:
  • This design exhibits a clear lack of understanding of both the physiology of healthy birth and the challenges women face worldwide that contribute to maternal death in childbirth. (Information that is readily available from a wide variety of NGO’s and the World Health Organization, who are all working on the front lines of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality, and would have been happy to share the things they are actually lacking). Hint: It has NO relationship to a lack of stirrups or forcing a woman into what is literally the worst labor position.

    Chandra Fischer says:
  • This is terrible. First off birth is not an emergency. Secondly this position is this worst to birth in working against the woman’s body. If she is not medicated from the waist down then let her birth in the position that feels best to her. Hand and knees, squatting, standing, lunging, laying flat or on her side. Please take the awful contraption and burn it.

    Doula says:
  • Someone sadly missed the mark here. Access to obstretical care when it becomes medically necessary is something all women deserve. This contraption on the other hand would encourage women to be put into the worst possible position to birth a baby creating more difficult births not better ones. What would be useful in a kit would be a clean birthing stool and a clean surface for a woman to kneel to birth her baby on. Access to artificial oxytocin for times of hemorrage. Access to the ability to resuscitate a baby when hypoxia is a concern. Access to clean suturing supplies for when sutures are needed and a clean FLAT surface to lie on while being sutured.

    Dr. Nancy says:
  • Glad to see all the good comments about how terrible this is.

    Create a portable kit that’s a birth stool that gets the woman vertical and you’ll have my applause but for this position I agree with the majority here that this is a terrible idea.

    & for “Ana” who commented about people in unsanitary situations obviously you haven’t read the comments. The complaints aren’t about anything to do with sanitation. They’re to do with the position this puts a woman in which *increases* risk to her and baby. Upright or actually kneeling on all fours are much better positions and you can still provide gloves, sanitation, etc. for those!!

    Fiona says:
  • A portable hospital? Yikes!!! Not needed. Hospitals are not needed for birthing. An alley or road or forest is much better. Sterile gloves, sure…blankets, of course…medication in case of hemmorage, that would be fabulous…but this? No, this is not appropriate. Find ways to train midwives and doulas in poverty stricken places, but please don’t provide this contraption.

    EM midwife for 16 years says:
  • No, Ana, this *isn’t* perfect for underdeveloped or war-torn countries. They do not need a fancy reclining birth chair that puts them in a horrible position. It isn’t magically going to make birthing in a bad situation better. All of those “on board” supplies could be contained and transported in an emergency birth kit, without including complex equipment that can cause more physiological problems than it solves. A sturdy birth stool would serve the same purpose of getting mom ‘out of the dirt’, and facilitate the birthing process more.

    CJEH says:
  • “I see this development as a real enrichment to the many women in underdeveloped countries; some of which live several hundred kilometers away from a ‘normal’ place of delivering a baby (at best a hospital) and cannot make it to the place where they want to deliver in time for actual delivery.” You can’t really believe that any device like this in an emergency or non-emergency childbirth situation is any better than a woman squatting, thus opening up her pelvis wider and facilitating a much easier birth than in this contraption! Really, what people won’t do for money… So sad, and abusive, fear-mongering.

    Kerry Tuschhoff says:
  • this is absolutely not the right position for birth. If the aim is to save lives then a pack with equipment that can be used makes sense but not something that puts women in lithotomy

    Welsh midwife says:
  • Man invents unnecessary thing that violates woman’s physiological needs and tells her it’s for her own good. Classy.

    Lisa Russell says:
  • Ralph Schreckling, you could not be further from the mark. Take note of what the majority of commenters state. This horror is wrong in so many ways. Women birth better when they are active, not strapped down. I have attended many women birthing out of hospitals and not one of them chose to lie down and birth in this way. The Western style of birth is convenient for the attendant but the worst possible for the birthing woman. Money would be better spent in educating communities on how to value their women by not marrying them off too young, nourishing them properly so that pregnancy and birth does not mean life-threatening anaemia, schooling them, giving them reproductive autonomy etc. This gadget represents a narrow, male-oriented “solution” to a “problem” that is bizarrely misconceived.

    Alison Reid says:
  • If you birth in that position you might as well stand on your head. This was clearly designed by someone who doesn’t understand how physiological birth works. Any woman who goes into spontaneous labour would be far better off squatting or on all fours than using this ridiculous contraption.

    Amber says:
  • hello everyone
    After reading some of your offensive comments, we got very good points about our design.
    First of all, thanks those professional midwifes who liked the idea and pointed the most appropriate reviews with respect.
    Secondly, we don’t know why just some same people give their own comment 3 or 4 times with different names? Your messages are very clear at first place too! Don’t worry. Genesis is a concept that It has been able to attract the attention of juries and designers in a global competition.
    As some of you might know, for a competition there is videos and more sheets to demonstrate the idea. So, by just reading brief or just looking at some pictures, judging an Idea is so crucial.
    Genesis is a start of thinking about making products for this need. Our Idea was not presenting the most comfortable position for labor. Our job is to develop and promote the current product which is still valid in a lot of places worldwide. Please kindly google “Labor bed” and you will see the results … our concept wanted to develop that IDEA of a mobile one in an environment where there is no facility
    Notable point is, the back & the leg holders are adjustable, everything is adjustable to the comfort of the mother.
    She can adjust the position like birthing ball, birthing bar, squatting and RECLINGING! Do you have problem with these positions? Just because there is one picture doesn’t mean it’s only just one option! The position you are looking is one of the positions which is for the checkup, suturing and ….
    Thirdly, how many of you actively been in a disaster situation? Like when an earth quack happens or a war that even beds are not available for those who are bleeding? WE WERE …!!! EVERYONE! This is an Emergency kit with all its tools can exist anywhere. Same as first aid kit. We are talking about a kit that can be helpful if a pregnant woman should deliver her baby in the middle of nowhere instead of doing it on dirty ground and the caregiver yelling for the scissor, and thanks to Mr. Ralf who was the only one getting the point.
    For those cute people who think that faceless pregnant women should carry it always around … for your kind information, as you can see she is not pregnant and she is only a scale, a human scale! It’s needed in a presentation. If it was a boy I know we would have lots of comments bombarding us that BOYS DON’T GET PREGNANT!!! LOL
    To sum up, we are welcome all those people who really wants to give their idea in the appropriate way and thanks already for your comments.
    As Industrial Designers we know that Genesis like all the other concept has its flaws and perfections. It was awarded for the CONCEPT. Surly for the production lots of things may be changed.
    Best Regards
    Ghazal, Setareh and Hamed

    Ghazal Sarmast, Setareh Hosseinpor and Hamed Mehrabi says:
  • I don’t think there is one positive comment here from a professional midwife so I’m unsure what you have based your comment on. These comments are accurate. Apart from anything else, this gadget would have to be thoroughly cleaned between uses (quite a task with all those moving parts) and I’m guessing that in your refugee and war zone scenarios that there would be a shortage of water, soap and sponges. When I look after women who give birth outside of a hospital, they birth on the floor, outdoors or wherever they like. The equipment is minimal. You need a clean surface and washable or disposable sheets, towels or tarpaulin. 6kg is a lot to carry when you also need to carry other equipment, by the way. I believe this crazy invention will end up much like the appalling Odon device which some man thought would be an ideal way to get babies out – with a similar disregard for the physiology of birth. I really hope this one stays on the drawing board and that funding is directed to more practical and evidence-based solutions.

    Alison Reid says:
  • Dear Ghazal, Setareh and Hamed, please don’t bring this in production. You are defending a product that just shouldn’t be taken in production. Don’t be a Kavanaugh and defend something that is clearly wrong. Kavanaugh abused women. This torture device does torture women as well. It’s as simple as that. And stating that it replaces a labour bed is just a diversion tactic because labour beds aren’t good for women EITHER. They are unhealthy, uncomfortable and unsafe. Labour beds are for the doctors, not for the women. Don’t pretend with this torture device to do something good for women, because you aren’t. Stop lying to yourself. Technology is not always the answer to a good birth. Stop pretending otherwise. And stop lecturing midwives and women who clearly know better than you. Your arrogance and naivity is astounding. These midwives and women have been in disaster situations multiple times probably because obstetric violence is EVERYWHERE and especially around labour beds. You are giving an examply about caregivers yelling for scissors. Did you know that there is hardly any evidence that an episiotomy is necessary at all? Caregivers should put their scissors in their own perineums and leave perineums of labouring women alone. The same about check-ups. There’s hardly any need for checkups (with which you probably mean vaginal examinations, aka cervical checks) — only with problems might women sometimes need that. The VE is a cultural given, NOT a medical necessity. With the lithotomy position you are inviting problems, inviting iatrogenic damage. You are defending obstetric violence with this device. Stop it. And stop with your terrible arrogance. Mr Ralf doesn’t get the point, and neither do you guys. And if you would care to read something about what happens in childbirth to women you would stop lecturing the people above (except Ralf).
    The most important thing about technology in childbirth you don’t get: when people BUY an expensive technological device you bet they are going to use it too. You think it might only be used in emergencies. But that is not what is going to happen. This device will be used like labour beds, which women didn’t ask for either: for the comfort of the doctor, standing over the woman, telling her what to do, when to push. The reality is that in such a culture 90% of women gives birth on her back. She suffers from her birth instead of that she is the one in control. In a good birth the woman is boss. With this device she will never be.

    Renske says:
  • First world contraption. Waste of money. If the designer had any knowledge of birth and the anatomy of women they would know this is pointless.

    B says:
  • I’ve read your comment responding to all the “offensive” comments and it is clear that you do not have the first clue about birth and birth physiology. I am a designer as well, and I know it is difficult when others don’t respond well to your ideas, but calling out a bad idea is not offensive. In fact if this were on any sort of production track it would be life saving to draw attention to how truly awful this thing is.

    It seems as though all you did to prepare is to Google “labor bed.” A labor bed is the last place any woman should be giving birth. Reclining is a terrible (perhaps the worst) position to give birth. There is no possible way for this hard, angular device to approximate a birthing ball. Hospitals are for sick and injured people, not for normal pregnancies and births, and it is clear that you see hospitals as the ultimate best place to give birth. That is dead wrong.

    The objection everyone has with this device is the idea that it should function as an apparatus on which women need to perch in order to give birth. Throw that part of this design out the window, leave the emergency supplies you already have and add more items (talk to midwives to compile a comprehensive list). Then you might have a product worth considering: a suitcase full of emergency birth supplies.

    MAM says:
  • I live in a very poor country and work with births. Violence against woman in birth is horribly high , lacerations and difficulties are very common. The mayority of these risk situations could be avoid but NOT FORCING WOMEN to give birth lying on their backs. Squatting is an amazing position and you don’t need a device like that to achieve it. There are also many other paysiollogical positions that don’t need any complicated device. You are promoting a product that resumes everything that is wrong and violent during birth. Your “emergency kit” is just an emergency call to continue working to erradicate those perjudicial (and not recommended by the WHO) practices that make delivering a baby a nightmare for many many women. And yes, I lived in very poor countries with emergencies like earthquakes and war, and the least we woman need is someone speaking for us without knowing NOTHING and make our difficult situation worst . So, be humble and accept this horrible torture machine should never see the light, because doctors are going to buy it and will continue spreading those practices (against all cientific evidence and all mothers wellbeing). This experiment won’t safe lives, it will put more lives in risk , it will increase pain and time fondo delivering , it will increase rearing (and infection risk) , it will increase dystocia , etc… just go and read some science before , everything is out there , start researching the basic: world health organization. And last of all I simply find evil when men speak about “poor women in undevelopment countries” as if we weren’t people, but puppies to be rescued, we are strong , we are wise and we can deliver a baby if they stop interfiering with horrible practices . My name is not fake, neither my story so please listen to us your “target”

    Adriana vergara says:
  • Here’s solid evidence on birthing positions since you went ahead and made this without reading any…

    Zero Evidence says:
  • Thank you for your intent to help childbirth. As mentioned numerous times above this is not how you “save” women from childbirth related complications. A total lack of research and understanding is what is represented in this appliance. I just shake my head. Please do some real research – there are plenty of great studies on birth position, maternal health and supporting childbirth. A $3 clean birth kit that contains a few basics would go a lot further and help a lot more women. Childbirth is not high tec. It’s a normal bodily process – let’s help support women and physiology and not make it more complicated.

    Melissa says:
  • Please consult with the charities and NGOs providing maternity services in developing countries and in emergency situations. They are the expert in the best value ways to help women give birth safely. Spending money on such a device would require not spending money or other equipment, facilities and services. I am deeply sceptical as to whether this device has any place in maternity services, but even if it might, I think it is very unlikely to win in a cost/benefit analysis with much simpler equipment. Try talking to for starters.

    Rachel D says:
  • Dear Ghazal, Setareh and Hamed, An important part of the design and development process is consultation and feedback. You seem quite unwilling to take on board the feedback from birthing professionals about the product. Design should be based around the core elements of a need; in this case, you seem to be ignoring the research about the cause of maternal and infant deaths which relate far more to santitation than position. How does your product meet these needs for clean water for example? How will the product be sterilised after use in an environment where clean water and power is not available? You’ve had comments from birthing professionals regarding the actual positioning and how it works against normal physiological birth Addressing the needs of birthing women in disaster and disadvantage situations is important, but your product as it stands has immense potential to exacerbate the issues and does not address the key causes leading to maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. Please review your concept and seeking input from birthing professionals rather than simply creating a portable “labor bed” which is unnecessary.

    Jenny says:
  • Absolutely cannot believe this has even been considered. Have you ever seen a woman in natural labour? This is demeaning and abusive. Please review your concept and ask WOMEN who have birthed naturally to assist you with your design.

    Catherine Evans says:

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