Bringing a child into the world is probably one of the most unique experiences in the whole world. However, it is not an easy process. Going into labor and delivering a baby are exhausting experiences and most women admit that pregnancy-related stress and anxiety may be a bit overwhelming. So, it’s crucial for both the prospective mother and the medical specialists to be as prepared as possible. After all, when you know what to expect, you have less stress. This is why virtual reality applications – e.g., VR birth simulator – can provide a great step towards the future.
Delivering a baby – is it possible to get prepared?
If you asked a group of mothers about the most meaningful moments in their lives, most of them would probably say that bringing a child into the world was one of them. However, most of them would probably also say that going into labor was a great challenge for both their bodies and minds. Every woman is different. Their bodies are different, and no two births are the same. However, the process of getting prepared for the labor should be carried out properly in each case. There are many widely available methods for getting prepared to deliver a baby, and experts recommend the following:
- Prepare your mind – don’t listen to horror stories about labor. They are unhelpful, especially if you are feeling nervous. There are many positive stories out there too.
- Prepare your body – performing exercises during pregnancy can really make your labor much easier. Pregnancy itself can be just as hard on the body as any sport. Labor often requires stamina and strength, so it’s crucial to prepare your body for it. Find a pregnancy yoga class near you, go for regular walks, or look for an antenatal exercise class in your neighborhood. Most importantly, your exercise should strengthen the muscles that you will be using while giving birth.
- Use relaxation techniques – these include breathing exercises that will help you calm your nerves. Meditation and positive visualization can also help you relax.
- Understand different labor positions – changing positions during labor may offer benefits such as a sense of self-control or reduced need for medication. Be sure to practice different positions beforehand.
- Learn how to deal with the pain of labor – this is quite challenging. The contractions the body makes to push the baby are usually uncomfortable and painful. Drugs are an option, but more and more women are deciding to give birth without the use of medications. This is why it’s a very good idea to familiarize yourself with strategies that you can use to manage this discomfort naturally.
Is it possible that virtual reality can help women prepare for labor?
In today’s world, labor wards and delivery rooms are trying to help mothers deal with the pain by turning to a technology used primarily by gamers. These are VR headsets – childbirth simulators, VR birth simulators etc. For example, voice guidance and visuals are used to calm the woman down during delivery. Virtual reality is also being used to help women prepare for labor. VR birth training is a complex, yet virtual simulation of the environment a woman will need to deal with when the time comes. Thanks to the VR headset, she can see the exact hospital room and the medical staff who will take care of her during her labor. VR birth simulator can even simulate the pain a woman experiences while delivering a baby thanks to special electrodes. All these technologies can help a woman to prepare to give birth without making the real labor less meaningful. The major goal is to prepare both the woman and the medical staff so that the labor is safe and under control.
What is virtual reality?
Before we dive deeper into VR technology and how it can make labor easier, let’s spend a second explaining what virtual reality actually is. Virtual reality uses software to create an immersive simulated environment. VR users put on head-mounted displays which place them inside an experience where they can engage with the environment and virtual characters in a way that feels real. Virtual reality is interactive, immersive, adaptive, and dynamic. If you can imagine being in a highly realistic computer game, you have an approximation of what virtual reality feels like. For learners, VR makes accessing many clinical experiences simple. It allows learners to make mistakes safely, so it’s great for education, especially in sensitive industries like healthcare and medicine.
VR birth simulator – how does it work?
First, let’s explain what VRObs is. It’s an innovative training simulation, targeted at providing training for an uncomplicated birth delivery. It has been developed for students to be able to learn independently and receive feedback and guidance from a virtual instructor. The program consists of three main features: stage-based learning, motion guidance, and real-time analytics. It is already used by medical schools and institutions that train undergraduate doctors and nurses. VR birth training is an automated high-tech lifelike patient manikin that mimics a woman going through labor and delivery.
Childbirth simulators range from static models to advanced, fully automated technical models. The high-end ones provide a woman with a real-life labor experience, including the pain they may feel. They use wireless remote controls, streaming audio, cardiac functions, and palpable pulses etc. Thanks to childbirth simulators and VRObs, medical students can learn how to deal with the different positions of the baby, check their heart and respiratory rates, and practice performing a cesarean section etc.
The VR birth simulator from a woman’s perspective
Most medical professionals admit that VR technology may be an alternative for pain management. Women who have had a chance to try the VR birth training say that the technology helped them reach a state of relaxation. While in hospital, VR can take a woman away from the uncomfortable environment they are in. VR can also be used with women who have previously had difficult birth experiences. Virtual reality brings another dimension to breathing, relaxation, and preparation for labor. It’s an option for pain relief without opioids – a VR childbirth simulator alleviates all kinds of pain and dissipates fear. And all this without any severe side effects. It has been proven that women who used VR headsets recorded lower pain scores and lower heart rates during their labors, which may suggest a physiological response to reduced pain.
The VR birth simulator from medical professionals’ perspective
Experts keep saying that VR birth training and VRObs have been developed as a result of an unchanging system of surgical training. Today, virtual reality is one of the most effective ways to practice labor and prepare as much as possible to help a woman deliver a baby. Medical students can practice anytime and anywhere in a completely immersive environment. They know what the woman in labor is experiencing and how she feels. Students and professionals can deal with real-life situations. This is followed by feedback and debriefing to allow them to learn from their mistakes.
A childbirth simulator helps medical professionals visualize the interior of the human body and use various scenarios that closely mimic common surgical situations. One big advantage of this is that the software is fully flexible. It can be updated and customized, so multiple scenarios can be trained. All these make us feel that medical education is rapidly changing. VR simulation is becoming a cornerstone of clinical training and so far, it has been effective. VRObs has been emerging as a new method of delivering simulation – it has become a cost-effective, repeatable, standardized method of carrying out clinical training on demand.
Will women deliver their babies using virtual reality in the future? Will a childbirth simulator be a popular software to prepare for labor? If we take away the skepticism and the reluctance to try something new, this may be a great breakthrough in handling the pain of labor. VR is certainly a promising option.
Check also the article about Mixed Reality in Healthcare.