Virtual reality (VR) opens up so many opportunities, giving users the ability to do everything from swimming in the ocean to flying through outer space with ease. The technology's fun options are endless - but how does it fit into childbirth?. VR magnifies the mind-body connection & influences our brain on how it perceives the sensation of pain. Recently virtual reality is being used by doctors during labor to distract & calm women until its time to push.
Virtual reality offers patients a medication-free option to help them cope with the anxieties and pain of birth. There is a research that is focused on women in labor, involving a half-hour test that displayed certain relaxing sequences via a VR headset. The experiment involved women who hadn't been given pain drugs and were going into labor for the first time. According to Reuters, the study participants who wore the VR headsets over a 30-minute period had an average 0.52 point drop on the self-reported pain scale (which goes from 1 to 10) compared with the control group that experienced a nearly identical rise in pain.
Using VR for women in labor has additional benefits such as:
- Lower Costs.
- Few side effects.
- Less risk to the mother & the baby.
- A medication free option
- Effective pain relief.
- Also offers reliefs during post-birth procedures like stitches for tears or incisions.
Virtual reality could also help those who may have an active or past substance use disorder. The Administration's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services clinical guide on treating pregnant people with opioid use disorder explains that those with the disorder can have a diminished response to opioid medication. This means they often require higher doses to find relief. During labor, it's possible that VR could offer a way to augment or replace medication to help manage pain for those with a substance use disorder.
During labor, VR offers a way to augment or replace medication to help manage pain effectively may also increase the body's own levels of endorphins and other pain-blocking mechanisms.