Decompression Baby

My mother, Carol Gill, undergoing pre-natal abdominal decompression therapy nine days before my birth at her home in Letchworth Garden City, May 1968.

I am a decompression baby; during the final months of my mother’s pregnancy with me in 1968, she took part in a medical trial being conducted by her pediatrician, Dr. Faulkes.

The medical trial required my mother to spend about 30 minutes each day in a plastic bubble covered by an air-tight bag connected to an air pump (probably fashioned from a modified vacuum cleaner motor). The pump sucked the air out of the enclosure, creating a mild vacuum inside the bag and lowering the atmospheric pressure on my mother’s abdomen and the unborn child, i.e. me.

The principle behind this idea was very simple — by lowering the atmospheric pressure on my mother’s uterus, an increased supply of blood — and therefore oxygen — would be able to flow to the placenta and to me.

The goal of this clinical trial was to establish whether abdominal decompression during pregnancy and labour could result in:

  • Easier, safer pregnancies
  • Shorter, less painful labour/labour
  • Healthier, brighter children

Originally invented by a Dr O.S. Heyns in South Africa in the late fifties, the technique gradually grew in popularity and spread to the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, before apparently falling out of favour with the medical profession a little more than a decade later — although it is still offered on the National Health Service in Slovenia!

I have became so fascinated by this all-but-forgotten medical technique of which I am a product that I have created a whole website, blog and email list at