Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force

Birthingpatentttt A centrifuge creates excess gravitational force (G's) by spinning things, and sometimes people. (It's excess G's that press you into your roller coaster seat on those nauseating loops.) Aerospace medicine types spent lots of time in the 1960s documenting the unpleasant effects of excess G's. If a pilot starts spinning in a high-altitude bailout, for instance, the outward force on his/her head can rupture vessels in the eyes and brain and even, at spins in excess of 175 rpm, spin the brain right off its brainstem. La, la la.

Seen here is an unusual example of excess G's being harnessed for the good. The patent holders, George B. and Charlotte Blonsky, contend that the centrifuge could be a boon to "more civilized women," who, they surmise, often lack the muscle strength needed to easily push out a baby. Centrifugal force would act as a sort of invisible midwife, lessening the muscular force required for birthing. Would it work, though? Could one create enough outward force on the baby to make a difference -- without simultaneously making the mother lightheaded? I sent the patent to April Ronca, who used to research the effects of zero G on fetal growth and birth for NASA. "That is an interesting invention," she replied.


As with so many U.S. patents -- the "Decorative Penile Wrap" I stumbled onto while researching my previous book leaps to mind -- one longs to know the back story. Did Charlotte undergo a difficult birth? Did the couple actually build and use the thing? Perhaps they'll read this and post a comment.

Note the elasticized "pocket-shaped newborn net" - lest the baby shoot out and bump its head with double-G force.

Patent No. 3,216,423: Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force, Patented November 9, 1965


  1. Women outside of the Western world give birth squatting or standing up. The effects of gravity are lessened when women are encouraged to give birth flat on their backs.

    1. Giving birth while standing up or squatting? Giving birth is not a process that takes 2 minutes. It will be extremely uncomfortable to squat for hours, especially when you are pregnant.

      Anyway, if there is any difficulty, the usual solution is for the doctor to give a helping hand. Use calipers on the baby’s head and pull gently. My mother says it left indentations on my head, but fortunately it went away after a few days.

      To get 1G, you don’t need a centrifuge. Just tilt the bed up.

      1. Daniel! – you have obviously not given birth! As one who has – at home with absolutely no medicine or ‘helping hands’ from a doctor (just support from a certified midwife) – trust me the LAST thing in the world you want is to be laying on your back! It is agony! I spent most of my labour walking around or on all fours. Many women find squatting (with or without assistance) or bouncing on one of those chair balls, to be very comfortable. One of the most important things in labour is to move around and find positions that help you – so if squatting becomes uncomfortable – you move!
        The use of calipers not only can harm the baby by cutting him – it also involves a large episiotomy (cutting the woman’s vagina open) in order to insert the caliper. Not fun. (still useful in an emergency though now the vacuum is more commonly used – but there are MANY other options)
        I agree the centrifuge is silly – but that’s because gravity is so readily available and pulling out a baby can seriously harm both mom and baby. And anyway the hard part of birth is the stretching and relaxing – not the pushing!

        1. AGF! You obviously have no idea what you are talking about! Calipers? Am I missing something here? After attending close to 1,000 hospital births, not once have we used calipers to get the baby out. I encourage women all the time to assume a comfortable position while pushing, whether that be squatting, hands and knees, or whatever. Usually they prefer a semi-fowlers, fowlers or side-lying position for pushing. In fact, upright positions for birth may be associated with increased blood loss and trauma to the perineum.
          No one is “forcing” women to do anything, so stop spreading misinformation. I believe the instrument you are professing to know so much about is called forceps, no calipers.

    1. A laughable claim, Uncle Balsamic, perpetrated by overzealous teachers of science. Simply construct Newton’s laws in a rotating system and you’ll see a centrifugal force term appear as plain as day.

      Don’t flame if you don’t get the reference ;)

      1. Come now, do you really expect me to do co-ordinate substitution in my head while giving birth in this centrifuge?

        (Apologies to Uncle B if he wanted to get there first.)

    2. Actually centripital force is the force that is acting on the outer edge to push the object into a curve and centrifugal force is the force trying to push it out of the curve. You need to learn more Physics before trying to correct someone on it.

  2. I’m not sure how fast that thing was supposed to spin but… excess Gs on a newborn baby that just spent 10 months floating in a womb might not be the best idea…

  3. The safety net is a good idea, but I prefer to imagine an obstetrician with an oversized catcher’s mitt.

  4. You could use a similar design for a rockin’ space toilet. Great separation at 5G, I reckon.

  5. If I recall the episode correctly, Heinlein’s character Lazarus Long ‘invented’ the method of bumping up a spaceship’s artificial gravity field during childbirth to assist in delivery.

    1. #10,

      Good catch. It was the foot pedal which made all the difference in that case I believe, and being able to buy slaves to experiment on.

  6. Someone came up with a complicated and potentially dangerous idea to increase the force on a baby and aid delivery, yet so many people tend to overlook the simplest and most natural solution: the forces pushing the baby toward the outside world, apart from the mother’s muscles, can be increased from 0 Gs to 1 G by doing one simple thing:

    Move the mother from a lying down position to an upright one.

    Guess what? In some less developed parts of the world, where there are no ‘civilized women who lack the strength to push out a baby’, birth in a squatting or similar position is standard practice.

  7. How about some sort of bungee system? attach the fetus to some sort of harness while still inside the womb, attach that to a thin kevlar cord on the ground, then have the laboring woman leap off a 50′ ledge attached to a bungee cord. The kevlar cord is reeled in at the same rate that the woman falls (9.8m/s acceleration) to keep a snug tension on the baby still in the womb. As she reaches the apex of her descent, she pushes while the baby is under a 4G load (the baby should just fall out on it’s own, right?) and the kevlar cord keeps the baby from springing upward with the mother in case she didn’t push hard enough.

    The only problem is that you have to be really, really quick at cutting the cord before the mother starts accelerating back upwards again.

  8. Leave me out of that delivery room. Since, as I’m given to understand, women poop while giving birth…

    To quote Terry Pratchett, “no one liketh thort thowerth of thit.”

  9. Indeed – this could be helpful to mothers who lack the muscular strength to deliver a baby while strapped down flat on their backs, but are unwilling to stand up (or are unable to do so due to being strapped down) – the simple step of attaching the labouring mother, all birth attendants, and any necessary equipment to a centrifuge, spinning at a rate that will produce 1G of (apparent) centrifugal force at the mother’s pelvis, could be a tremendous boon.

    Science is amazing – what will we think of next?

  10. Hmm, Heinlein used something similar in one of his books. Time Enough For Love, I think it was. The (first one) with Lazarus Long. Anywho, an applied gravimetric field was applied to the uterus to cause the baby to pop out.

    And yeah… standing or squatting does a similar thing with a lot less calculus involved.

  11. Or you could just have the baby standing. Believe it or not, before all this wondrous medical technology people had babies all on their own.

    1. “Or you could just have the baby standing. Believe it or not, before all this wondrous medical technology people had babies all on their own.”

      And 20% of babies died. Who needs all this medical technology, anyway? The truth is, infant mortality has been steadily declining for the last couple hundred years. Obstetrics saves lives.

  12. I heard about you, Roach. You’re the one with the parsimonious titles. You can just come to my office and pick up your final paycheck little missy.

    Oops, sorry, that other thread got me worked up.

  13. Another bonus is that the mother will likely blackout from having all the blood rushing to her feet…so no unwanted memory of the birth…probably will help with improving blood loss too…

  14. Even more disturbing is the fact that this patent was cited in a patent issued in 2000 (6117371) for a flame retardant composition comprising a brominated diphenylalkane composition!

  15. This problem has been solved before in other fields of medicine:

    1) Tie one end of cord to the fetus
    2) Tie one end of cord to the doorknob
    3) Slam door.

  16. Where, exactly, does the doctor ride?

    Perhaps some sort of backwards Heimlich would be in order.

  17. I was born when the greyhound bus spun out of control in Edmonton in the winter 1969 and maybe the acid my mom dropped the day before help ?

  18. Of course, if women weren’t lying on their backs, they wouldn’t have to push the baby up and over their pelvis.

    Oh, and this lying on the back thing, we can thank King Louis XIV for it.

  19. EllenD – Apologies – I meant forceps. I mistakenly repeated the word used by Daniel to whom I was replying. Perhaps you missed that when you responded to me. Aside from accidentally repeating the wrong word – what ‘misinformation’ am I spreading?

    Anyway, now that we have the correct word – forceps – please – am I wrong that an episiotomy is usually necessary with such an intervention? And an episiotomy – what does that involve? It’s pleasant right? And how does the blood loss from such an intervention compare to the study you linked to?

    I did actually push in a side laying position. However, I spent none of labour flat on my back. My point is – different positions are good – which you seem to understand and agree with.

    I have nothing against medical technology – I just believe that often it gets over used.
    Since I’m sure you appreciate a good study – here you go – a study which found planned home births with a certified midwife are just as safe (for low risk women – I would never suggest this for anyone high risk) as hospital births in terms of grave consequences and safer in terms of minor consequences. (Some of us feel things like episiotomies are in face undesirable.):
    Well used obstetrics save lives. So do well used appendectomies – they just aren’t always necessary.

  20. If the woman is being spun around the axis of the circle, I wonder if this would actually inhibit delivery, because it would make her belly distend to the trailing side of her as she spins, and the contractions would have to work against that?

  21. The neck brace helps keep the blood in the birthing mother’s brain, by strangulating her. Genius!

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