In developing nations maternal deaths are far too common, and postpartum hemorrhage is the leading cause of deaths of mothers in these countries, accounting for nearly a quarter of all maternal deaths in the world according to the World Health Organization.
Postpartum hemorrhage is when the mother loses too much blood after giving birth, cutting off oxygen to the brain and other vital organs. This condition is very rare in developed countries because medical care is much more advanced and available than in lower-income nations. Also, most women in poorer countries give birth at home and don’t have timely access to a hospital.
The non-pneumatic anti-shock garment, also called a life wrap, is designed to combat this problem and lower the number of postpartum hemorrhage deaths. It’s made of simple materials—neoprene and Velcro—and was originally created by NASA for space programs. It was presented by health experts at the Women Deliver 2013 conference, a meeting of policymakers, researchers, and advocates to focus on women’s empowerment and health.
The life wrap works by restricting blood flow, therefore limiting blood loss. The garment is wrapped around a women’s legs and abdomen to slow the bleeding and send oxygen back to the heart, lungs, and brain—areas that need it the most. The product is simple, yet it can be a lifesaver.
However, the life wrap is intended to only be a way to buy time so that women can get to a hospital. With postpartum hemorrhage, they only have about two hours from the time the bleeding starts before they die of blood loss, and the life wrap extends that time frame so that they can make it to a hospital to receive proper medication and care.
– Katie Brockman