Title:
POOL
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A birthing pool for holding water comprises a floor 2 having at least one inflatable chamber 20 and a perimeter wall 3 having at least one inflatable chamber (30a, b, c), wherein there is further provided a removable liner 5 arranged, in use, to line, or at least lie adjacent at least some of the internal surfaces of the pool 1. The pool 1 may be ovoid in shape, it may have handles 4 for ease of use and may incorporate an integral step.



Inventors:
Maclean, Adam (Birmingham, GB)
Application Number:
11/721081
Publication Date:
07/16/2009
Filing Date:
10/17/2006
Assignee:
THE GOOD BIRTH COMPANY LIMITED (Birmingham, GB)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H4/00; A61G13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LE, HUYEN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CAESAR RIVISE, PC (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Claims:
1. 1-42. (canceled)

43. A birthing pool comprising a floor and a perimeter wall, said floor comprising at least one inflatable chamber, said perimeter wall comprising at least one inflatable wall chamber, wherein the pool further comprises a removable liner arranged, in use, to line or at least lie adjacent at least some of the internal surfaces of the pool.

44. A pool as claimed in claim 43, wherein the removable liner is secured relative to the pool by an interference fit.

45. A pool as claimed in claim 44, wherein the interference fit is provided by an undersized and/or elasticated edge of the removable liner.

46. A pool as claimed in claim 44, wherein the removable liner is sized and shaped to provide a fit with at least a portion of the uppermost part of the perimeter wall.

47. A pool as claimed in claim 43, further comprising at least one handle, wherein the liner comprises at least one handle slot and the at least one handle is protrudable, in use, through the at least one handle slot.

48. A pool as claimed in claim 47, wherein the at least one handle is fixed to an outer surface of the perimeter wall.

49. A pool as claimed in claim 47, wherein the at least one handle is fixed to or proximate the top of the perimeter wall.

50. A pool as claimed in claim 43, wherein the perimeter describes an ovoid shape.

51. A pool as claimed in claim 43, wherein the perimeter wall comprises at least two independently inflatable wall chambers.

52. A pool as claimed in claim 51, wherein the at least two independently inflatable wall chambers comprise rings of ovoid perimeter located on top of one another and joined together.

53. A pool as claimed in claim 43, wherein at least some of the inner wall of the perimeter wall is substantially transparent and at least some of the outer wall of the perimeter wall is opaque.

54. A pool as claimed in claim 43, further comprising an integral step.

55. A pool as claimed in claim 54, wherein the step is on the inside of the pool.

56. A birthing pool comprising a floor and a perimeter wall, said floor comprising at least one inflatable floor chamber and said perimeter wall comprising at least one inflatable wall chamber, wherein the pool further comprises at least one handle on an outer surface of the perimeter wall.

57. A pool as claimed in claim 56, wherein the at least one handle is fixed to or proximate the top of the perimeter wall.

58. A pool as claimed in claim 56, further comprising a removable liner arranged, in use, to line or at least lie adjacent the internal surfaces of the pool.

59. A pool as claimed in claim 58, wherein the liner comprises at least one handle slot and, in use, the at least one handle protrudes through the at least one handle slot.

60. A birthing pool comprising a floor and a perimeter wall, said floor comprising at least one inflatable floor chamber and said perimeter wall comprising at least one inflatable wall chamber, wherein the pool further comprises an integral step on the inside of the pool.

61. A pool as claimed in claim 60, further comprising at least one handle.

62. pool as claimed in claim 61, wherein the at least one handle is fixed to an outer surface of the perimeter wall.

63. A removable liner for a birthing pool.

64. A removable liner as claimed in claim 63, wherein the liner comprises a substantially ovoid base, a perimeter wall upstanding from the base around its perimeter, and a portion which is sized to be extendable, in use, over an edge of the pool.

65. A removable liner as claimed in claim 63, further comprising an undersized and/or elasticated terminal edge for securing, in use, the liner to the pool.

66. A removable liner as claimed in claim 63, further comprising handle slots.

67. A removable liner as claimed in claim 66, wherein the handle slots are formed proximate to the terminal edge thereof.

Description:

The present invention relates to a pool, specifically to an inflatable pool, and more specifically, although not exclusively, to an inflatable birthing pool.

Water birthing has grown in popularity in recent years as the benefits of the practice have become better understood. As the child is born, the transition from the womb into a pool of warm water, which is a similar environment to the amniotic sac, is thought to be both gentler for the child and less stressful for the woman thereby helping to reduce complications. Other actual or perceived advantages include an increase in the buoyancy of the body, which allows free movement and improves blood circulation, and improved relaxation and elasticity of the perineum which eases the birthing process.

Water birthing is generally conducted in hospitals, birth centres or midwifery units, although home births are also growing in popularity. Hospitals and birth centres often have their own birthing pools, which may be rigid tubs or inflatable pools. Birthing pools may also be purchased or hired for home births. The choice of rigid or inflatable pools is a matter of preference, since there are separate advantages with each design approach.

Rigid tubs are often provided with heating units for maintaining water temperature and/or pumping units for filling and emptying the tubs as well. Some women prefer rigid tubs as they give the impression of being more secure and reliable than inflatable pools; they are often considered to be more sturdy with little risk of puncturing or fracturing the wall.

Inflatable birthing pools may be preferred over rigid tubs, especially for home use, as they are more comfortable, easier to set up and more effective for maintaining water temperature as a result of the insulating properties of the air. The first inflatable pools used for water birthing were standard round inflatable paddling pools.

However, one concern with inflatable pools is the difficulty involved with cleaning areas which are difficult to access, such as between air chambers. Cleaning and/or disinfecting is essential to limit the risk of infection when the pool is hired or otherwise used multiple times.

Today, there are a number of inflatable pools specifically designed for water birthing such as that disclosed in UK Registered Design No 3019551. The design comprises an oval shaped perimeter and handles on the inner surface for additional support.

It is an object of the invention to provide a pool having improved performance especially, although not exclusively, when used as a birthing pool.

It is an object of the present invention to provide an inflatable birthing pool which provides improved balance between privacy and convenience.

It is an object of the present invention to provide an inflatable birthing pool which is comfy in use, when within and/or when exiting or entering the pool.

It is a yet further object of the current invention to provide a new and improved birthing pool, taking into account the issues and concerns with the prior art.

A pool for holding water comprising a floor and a perimeter wall, said floor comprising at least one inflatable chamber, said perimeter wall comprising at least one inflatable wall chamber, wherein the pool further comprises a removable liner arranged, in use, to line or at least lie adjacent at least some of the internal surfaces of the pool.

A second aspect of the invention provides a pool for holding water comprising a floor and a perimeter wall, said floor comprising at least one inflatable floor chamber, said perimeter wall comprising at least one inflatable wall chamber, wherein the perimeter of the pool has one line of symmetry or does not comprise two lines of symmetry.

A third aspect of the invention provides an inflatable birthing pool comprising a floor and a perimeter wall, said floor comprising at least one inflatable floor chamber and said perimeter wall comprising at least one inflatable wall chamber, wherein the floor is a colour that allows one to readily identify a solution of blood in water located in the pool.

A fourth aspect of the invention provides an inflatable pool for holding water comprising a floor and a perimeter wall, said floor comprising at least one inflatable floor chamber and said perimeter wall comprising at least one inflatable wall chamber, wherein the pool further comprises at least one handle on an outer surface of the perimeter wall.

A fifth aspect of the invention provides an inflatable birthing pool comprising a floor and a perimeter wall, said floor comprising at least one inflatable floor chamber and said perimeter wall comprising at least one inflatable wall chamber, wherein at least some of the inner wall of the perimeter wall is substantially transparent and at least some of the outer wall of the perimeter wall is opaque.

A further aspect of the invention provides an inflatable pool for holding water comprising a floor and a perimeter wall, said floor comprising at least one inflatable floor chamber and said perimeter wall comprising at least one inflatable wall chamber, wherein the pool further comprises an integral step on the inside of the pool.

A further aspect of the invention provides a removable liner for an inflatable birthing pool arranged, in use, to line or at least lie adjacent the internal surfaces of the pool.

Embodiments of the invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of the pool of the invention in inflated condition

FIG. 2A is a perspective view of the pool of FIG. 1 with the liner installed

FIG. 2B is a perspective view of the pool of FIG. 1 without the liner

FIG. 2C is a perspective view of the liner with a faded outline of the pool

FIG. 3 is a side view of the pool of FIGS. 1 and 2 in collapsed condition in its carrier bag

Referring to FIGS. 1, 2A and 2B there is shown an inflatable pool 1 comprising a floor 2, a perimeter wall 3, two pairs of handles 4 and a removable liner 5. The floor 2 and perimeter wall 3 are made of welded polyvinylchloride (PVC) sheet material made to EN71 standard up to 0.5 mm, for example of 0.4 mm thickness. The removable liner 5 is made of substantially transparent PVC sheet material to EN71 standard up to 0.3 mm, for example of 0.20 mm thickness.

The floor 2 of the pool 1 is in the shape of an ovoid or egg in plan, wherein the radius of curvature at a first end 6 is larger than the radius of curvature at a facing or opposing end 7. The floor 2 comprises two opposed sheets of PVC material joined to provide a series of linear chambers 20 and provided with a self-closing air valve 21. The linear chambers 20 extend longitudinally along the major axis of the ovoid and are defined by seams or weld lines 22 between the two opposed sheets. Interruptions (not shown) in the weld lines 22 provide fluid connections between adjacent linear chambers 20, the purpose of which is explained below. A marginal seam 23 is provided proximate the perimeter of the ovoid to isolate the linear chambers 20.

The construction of the perimeter wall 3 can be seen in FIGS. 2A and 2B, wherein there comprises three wall chambers 30a, 30b and 30c, three respective self-closing valves 31a, 31b and 31c and three respective screw valves 32a, 32b and 32c. The wall chambers 30a, 30b and 30c are continuous rings which extend around the perimeter wall 3 and succeeding chambers 30a, 30b and 30c are located on top of one another. Each wall chamber 30a, 30b and 30c has a substantially oblate cross section and adjacent chambers 30a and 30b or 30b and 30c comprise a common wall made from a single sheet of material.

The successive chambers 30a, b, c may present a substantially vertical wall, i.e. they may be mounted directly upon one another, or a tapered wall, i.e. successive chambers may be larger or smaller than preceding chambers, to a user located within the pool 1.

Of course, there may be more or less chambers 30a, b, c . . . , although a plurality is preferred for security reasons.

The self-closing valves 31a, 31b and 31c are of the standard type known in the art for controlled inflation or deflation of air chambers. The screw valves 32a, 32b and 32c are also of the standard type known in the art for expeditious inflation or deflation. Each wall chamber 30a, 30b or 30c is in fluid isolation from adjacent wall chamber or chambers 30a, 30b or 30c and is in fluid communication with one self-closing valve 31a, 31b or 31c and one screw valve 32a, 32b or 32c. One of each of the self-closing 31a, 31b or 31c and screw valves 32a, 32b or 32c are positioned at equivalent locations on the side of their respective wall chamber 30a, 30b and 30c.

The floor 2 is integral with the inside of the perimeter wall 3, wherein a single continuous sheet is used for the bottom sheet of the bottom wall chamber 30c and the bottom sheet of the floor 2. Consequently, the perimeter wall 3 and the floor 2 are integrally formed and define a sealed enclosure or pool 1.

The floor 2 as seen from the inside of the pool 1 is of an opaque white colour, the purpose of which is described below. The remaining internal surfaces are transparent colourless, while the external surfaces of the pool 1 are opaque, the purpose of which is also described below. As shown in FIG. 2, the external surface of the perimeter wall 3 also comprises an image which extends around the entire perimeter.

The handles 4 are C-shaped with a straight cylindrical main portion for gripping, cylindrical extensions extending perpendicularly therefrom and a flat fixing portion for fixing the handle to the pool 1. The handles 4 are made of semi-rigid moulded plastics material.

The handles 4 are fixed to the uppermost wall chamber 30a on the surface external to the pool 1 using adhesives, and preferably reinforced bonding techniques known to the skilled addressee. Two handles 4 are located at each end or part 6 and 7 of the ovoid shape, spaced apart by a requisite distance and orientated at opposing 30 degree angles from the horizontal.

The removable liner 5 shown in FIG. 2C comprises a sheet of PVC material which is shaped to extend over and/or next to the internal surfaces of the pool 1. The liner 5 comprises a base 51, a perimeter wall 52 and an extension portion 53. The base 51 of the liner 5 correlates substantially to the ovoid shaped floor 2 of the pool 1. The perimeter wall 52 of the liner 5 extends upward from the base 51 around its perimeter. The extension portion 53 of the liner 5 comprises handle slots 50 formed proximate to a distal edge 54 of the liner 5. The handle slots 50 are rectangular in shape and are formed with their longitudinal axis at an angle of approximately 30 degrees the adjacent distal edge 54 of the liner 5.

The removable liner 5 is located inside the pool 1 with the extension portion 53 extending over the uppermost wall chamber 30a when the pool 1 is in inflated condition. The handles 4 protrude through the handle slots 50 in the liner 5 such that they may be gripped by a user. The extension portion 53 of the removable liner 5 is shaped and sized such that the edge 54 of the liner 5 is smaller than the outermost surface of the uppermost wall chamber 30a in expanded condition and the rest of the extension portion 53 provides a taut fit with the rest of the chamber 30a. This undersized edge 54 and/or taut fit, and/or the interface between the handles 4 and the handle slots 50, provides means for preventing relative movement between the removable liner 5 and the pool 1.

The inflatable birthing pool 1 of the present invention is shown in FIG. 3 in fully collapsed condition, folded and packed into a carrier bag 8. The carrier bag 8 is made of colourless transparent PVC sheet material up to 0.5 mm, for example of 0.38 mm thickness. The carrier bag 8 is shaped and sized such that the collapsed birthing pool 1 may be easily inserted.

In order to erect the pool 1, it is first removed from the carrier bag 8 and unfolded. The floor 2 and the two lowermost wall chambers 30b and 30c are first inflated. The floor 2 is inflated by introducing compressed air into the linear chambers 20 through the self-closing air valve 21. The air passing through the self-closing air valve 21 passes into a first linear chamber 20 and into adjacent chambers through the aforementioned interruptions in the weld lines 22. This process continues such that the pressure is equalised in all the linear chambers 20, thereby effecting inflation of the entire floor 2. The two lowermost wall chambers 30b and 30c are inflated by introducing compressed air therein through either their respective self-closing valves 31b and 31c or their respective screw valves 32a, 32b and 32c. The choice of valve is a matter of preference and is dependant on the compressed air source available.

The removable liner 5 is then inserted into the pool 1 and orientated such that the handle slots 50 are aligned with the handles 4 and the extending portion of the liner 5 is placed over the deflated uppermost wall chamber 30a. Excess air between the removable liner 5 and the pool 1 can be removed by smoothing the liner 5 against the pool 1. The handle slots 50 are then passed over the handles 4 such that the handles 4 protrude from the removable liner 5.

Finally, inflation of the uppermost wall chamber 30a is effected in the same way as previously described for the two lowermost wall chambers 30b and 30c. It may be advantageous to use the self-closing valve 31a rather than the screw valve 32a in order to ensure that inflation of the uppermost wall chamber 30a is properly controlled.

During inflation of the uppermost wall chamber 30a, the edge 54 of the liner 5 remains adjacent the join between wall chambers 30a and 30b as wall chamber 30a bulges outward from the air pressure within. When the wall chamber 30a is fully inflated, the undersized edge 54 of the liner 5 will at least help to secure the liner 5 in place.

In order to dismantle pool 1, the process is performed in reverse. The removable liner 5 is then disposed of or cleaned thoroughly for further use. It is envisaged that the removable liner 5 may be sold separately in order that the inflatable pool 1 may be used a plurality of times and by a plurality of users if required.

Prior to use, the pool 1 is filled with warm water (not shown), whereby the liner 5 isolates the water from the floor 2 and perimeter wall 3. It will be appreciated that the liner also provides a barrier to reduce the risk of puncture of the pool, or any one or more chambers 20; 30a, b, c.

In use, the woman enters the pool 1, preferably with the help of a step (not shown) and assumes a comfortable position within the pool 1. As mentioned above, the position that the woman finds comfortable will be dependent on the individual.

Specifically, some women may prefer the support and privacy of being more confined, which can be achieved in the pool 1 of the present invention at or near the second part 7 of the ovoid. The smaller radius of curvature gives the impression of a more confined space which provides greater support and more privacy.

In addition or contradistinctively, some women may prefer more freedom for manoeuvring themselves into various requisite positions throughout the labouring process. This may be achieved in the pool 1 of the present invention at or near the first part 6 of the ovoid. The larger radius of curvature is less confined than the opposing side, providing ample space and consequently more manoeuvrability.

In both of the situations mentioned above, the geometry of the pool 1 is such that there is provided plenty of access for the midwife, birth partner or other helper on the opposing side of the pool 1. Users who have used the pool 1 have reported these features as being extremely useful.

Additional support is provided by the pairs of handles 4 described above and located on the outside surface of the perimeter wall adjacent each part 6 and 7 of the ovoid. The handles 5 are angled to facilitate gripping by the woman when positioned at the relevant end of the pool 1. The fixing of the handles 5 is well reinforced but provides some flexibility for comfort using materials and bonding means which are known in the art. Of course, the handles 4 provide support when entering, exiting or using the pool 1, as well as manoeuvring the pool 1 when empty or, say, partially filled with water.

The use of opaque external surfaces of the perimeter wall 3 of the pool 1 provides a visual separation from the surroundings of pool. This is particularly helpful when the pool is placed in an open area, for example in a hospital, in that it provides the woman with a more private environment. The use of transparent internal surfaces in conjunction with the opaque surfaces provides an enhanced sense of spaciousness whilst privacy is maintained.

Furthermore, the use of a white interior floor may be particularly helpful in a birthing pool. It is known that some maternal blood loss can occur during birth. A solution of blood in water absorbs light at certain frequencies. By providing a white, or other light coloured background, it is possible to observe the colouration of the water and thereby qualify and/or quantify the blood loss. Consequently, a white floor enables a midwife or other trained individual to determine empirically the extent of that blood loss.

It is hereby stated that, for the avoidance of doubt, the pool of the present invention is intended for various uses. For example, the pool may be used at any point during labour, for example before, during or after the birth of a child.

Further embodiments are envisaged without departing from the scope of the invention. Namely, the pool may comprise an integral step on the inside and/or the outside of the perimeter wall 3. An inside step may be sized and shaped to provide a seat on which either the woman or birth partner can sit. Preferably, the step is collapsible by using, for example, hinged plates or inflatable chambers or a combination thereof. The plates may be made from rigid plastics material and fixed to the perimeter wall 3 and/or the floor 2. It is envisaged that the rigid plates, if used, are adapted to unfold into alignment to provide a step and/or seat which is structurally sound. Alternatively, the step may comprise a removable step, wherein the pool 1 is adapted to locate the step and maintain it in place, for example with flexible or rigid loops welded to, or integrally formed, with the perimeter wall 3 and/or floor 2. In other embodiments an inflatable step may be provided which may be separately inflatable from the pool 1 or inflated with a wall or floor chamber. The step may be integral or separate.

Furthermore, the shape of the pool may comprise variations to the ovoid which provide a plurality of variations in radii of curvature without departing from the scope of the invention. For example, the perimeter of the pool may comprise a clover leaf shape with each leaf being of a different shape to provide intermediate degrees of confinement for the woman.

The linear chambers 20 need not extend parallel to the principal axis of the ovoid and they may be inclined, they may be linear or non-linear. The wall chambers 30a, 30b and 30c may be vertical, non-vertical, linear or non-linear. The chambers 20, 30a, 30b and 30c may be individually formed using individual sheets which are then welded or bonded together. Alternatively, they may be formed in any other way which provides inflatable chambers such as blow moulding.

Variations to presence and/or the design of valves and/or handles are also envisaged. For example, the pool may comprise only a self-closing or screw valves or any other means of inflating and deflating the pool. Valve handles may be formed from PVC sheet material, either rolled into a cylindrical shape and welded for gripping or simply as flat members. It will be appreciated that more or fewer handles 4 may be provided, for example three pairs or four pairs.

Moreover, the pool need not comprise a removable, liner or the liner may be of a different design to that disclosed above. In particular, it is envisaged that the edge of the liner is elasticated in some embodiments rather than, or in addition to, the edge being undersized. The liner may be integrally formed with the perimeter wall 3 and/or the floor 2.

The pool may have various designs and/or patterns on the outside perimeter wall.

Any or all of the above features or any features found in the drawings and not specifically described above may be present in isolation or in any or all combinations thereof in a pool of the invention.