Marvelous Maternova: A Virtual Marketplace For Midwife Technologies

When I think of technology, I imagine launching massive metallic satellites into planetary orbit and digitally reconstructed images of dinosaurs.

“Appropriate technology” rests in peace as a buzzword of the 70s, long replaced by the synonymous, more savvy “sustainable development.”

Meanwhile, our current mode of disinfecting our consciousness from the pollutions of capitalism rests upon our excessive creation of NGOs and socially-responsible start-ups. There are so many competing against one another with contradictory modes of intervention that many lose sight of their goals, are detrimental to communities, and wasteful of resources.

How can we keep track of all of them and rate the effectiveness, saving the good parts and wrenching the bad ones?

Economic poverty, cultural beliefs, rural locales and systemic discrimination may limit a woman’s access to care and health resources. Operating as a virtual marketplace, Maternova assembles the globe’s best low-resource technologies for women and infant care for bulk purchase by other organizations and midwife use.

They research and review technologies, determine its durability and effectiveness for low-resource settings in which they are meant to be used. Then, they make bulk purchases of these technologies so they can be resold to those in need for more affordable prices, acting as a broker of relevant, and most appropriate gadgets. Maternova’s self-reliant approach positions women’s and prenatal health back in the hands of midwives and non-medicalized professional communities. And, as revealed by a recent study, investing in midwives yields a 16-fold return in a community.


Here’s a few well-reviewed gadgets:


1. HeartStrings:

measure of fetal heart tones created by Mother Health International


This simple patent protected technology was developed in Uganda to listen to and evaluate fetal heart rates in pregnant women The simple technology uses a timer as well as beads on a string and a color coded decision-making system to empower midwives to determine the health of a fetus in utero.

2. Cycle Beads:

visualizing family planning

CSC_0487_0CycleBeads, a color-coded string of beads representing a woman’s menstrual cycle, is a family planning tool that helps a woman track her cycle, identify whether she is on a fertile day or a non-fertile day, and monitor that her cycles are in range for effective use of this family planning method. Plan or prevent pregnancy easily and effectively with this family planning tool.

3. ThermoSpot:

stick-on reusable thermoindicators for newborns


The ThermoSpot is a non-invasive hypothermia indicator for infants. It is a single 12 mm flexible plastic disc that sticks directly onto the skin and can remain on for as long as 7-10 days. It is for use in a facility by a clinician, by a community health worker or by a parent. The device changes color when the baby’s core body temperature changes, allowing it to be understood even by a non-literate parent. When it is black the child has severe hypothermia. Note that the device has been tested in Malawi, Nepal and India.

4. Solar Headlamp Visor:

for rural areas without electricity


Solar-powered clip headlamp and adjustable visor useful for seeing births and/or walking in a dark area. The headlamp is a single rechargeable unit–no unwieldy cords or batteries involved. Photovoltaic panels recharge lithium batteries. The headlamp will charge even if sunlight is not hitting it directly, such as through a window. Each hour that the headlamp is in the sun will provide one hour of light for up to 12 hours. It is also useful for any kind of community health worker who needs to see to manage drug regimens, medical records or look at patients in dim light!! We also have customers buying the headlamp for all kinds of agricultural work as well.

5. Haemoglobin Color Scale:

to check for anemia

hemoglobin copyThis colour scale is WHO-approved and accurately measures haemoglobin levels in the blood by using the colour of the blood on a test strip and comparing to the colour chart. Results of the anemia check are immediate. It is the lowest cost hemoglobinometer on the market. Studies show that it can be used in children and adults.

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