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Wednesday
Feb092011

The Blonksy: Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force

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By Jill Arnold

 

Photo credit: The Hairpin

 

The Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force, or “The Blonsky,” was patented in 1965. Jennifer Block documented this in the first pages of her 2007 book, Pushed: the painful truth about childbirth and modern maternity care. In her words:

On November 9, 1965, the United States Patent Office granted George Blonksy, a retired mining engineer, and his wife Charlotte, a former medical student, patent number 3,216,423 for their “Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force,” or, simply, “The Blonksy.” Specifications for the floor-to-ceiling contraption were precise: The Blonsky was to be constructed of heavy cast iron and aluminum, mounted on poured concrete, and surrounded by a circular “fence.” The patient would be strapped horizontally along the radius of a circular platform and spun, like a merry-go-round, generating a force of up to seven G’s (seven times the force of gravity). Perhaps best described as an amusement park ride based on a medieval torture device built like a NASA space-flight simulator, the machine was intended to create sufficient pull “to push aside the constricting vaginal walls, to overcome the friction of the uteral and vaginal surfaces and to counteract the atmospheric pressure opposing the emergence of the child,” wrote the Blonskys. The baby, sucked out by a hyper-vacuum, would land in a basket built of a “strong, elastic material and supported under tension by tail ropes,” lined with cotton padding. The physician, essentially reduced to ride operator, need employ an emergency brake only if the force of the ejected child failed to trigger an automatic shut-off mechanism. (Pushed, Jennifer Block, pp 1-2)

 

  

Photo credit: Boing Boing

 

Photo credit: Boing Boing

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (11)

I like the net to catch the baby! Wheeeee

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi

So, they have a strap...on her neck? Which would strangle her? Too bad the Blonsky's are presumably no longer with us, because that would be an interesting if scary interview.

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteremjaybee

Maybe it's just a little mesh pillow holder, kind of like a sleep mask, but intended to keep your pillow from flying off as a result of your centrifugal force childbirth.

February 9, 2011 | Registered CommenterJill

I remember reading this and laughing out loud/being really scared of the possibility of such a machine! Thanks for sharing Jill!

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

The Blonsky's came up w/ this after seeing an elephant in labor at the Bronx Zoo that was going around in circles. They assumed that the elephant instinctively knew something that could be applied to women. As Jen points out in Pushed--and made me go verklempt, as much of the book does--elephants give birth in herds w/ other elephants. (I do believe there are even midwife elephants?) Isolated and alone, the Bronx Zoo elephant was just trying to make do. As have we :'(

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterD'Anne

I think they are forgetting the uphill curve the baby has to travel with the mother in this position! How about just making use of the force of gravity?

I can't even get on the kiddy rides at the amusement park; a little schoolbus ride that went up and down and around that they let two year olds on made me put my head between my knees and pray that it would be over soon. So this is my idea of a nightmare!

Susan Peterson

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Peterson

wow thats twisted who would sign up for that?

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKassedi

That image makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAugusta

When i first saw this i burst out laughing thinking it was a joke.... Then I read further and am dismayed.

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteraurora21kt9

I'm waiting to see the design for men.

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe WellRounded Mama
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