In November 2016, Erin Martucci was in labor with her second child when the doctor suggested easing her anxiety about childbirth through a virtual-reality headset, writes Rachel Metz of American news channel CNN. Martucci, a stay-at-home mom from New Hampton, New York, expressed her skepticism about the technology. However, her husband persuaded her to try it.
Martucci put on her headphones and saw herself being transported to a beach. A calm voice “guided her focus and breathing.” Hours later, her doctor took off her headset, announcing that it was time to push. Afterwards, Martucci’s daughter was born. According to the mother, the experience felt surreal and “never forgot she was in labor.” The voice helped Martucci calm down and “shift attention away from her pain.”
|Photo by Michael Martucci|
Three years later, she is pregnant with her third child, due in October. She eagerly spoke with her doctor about using VR again. Martucci states that they’re going to approach childbirth “using VR and going drug-free.” In the medical field, doctors perceive the technology as a way to combat labor pain and ease discomfort during “common procedures such as the insertion of an intrauterine device.”
Martucci is part of a small but growing group of women who resort to this technology. In California’s Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, there are a dozen headsets for patients to use “during the early stages of labor and for common in-house gynecologic procedures.” Ob-gyn at Santa Rosa Memorial Jonathan Kurss is glad that the medical field has started incorporating technology to help patients relax or perform certain breathing techniques during difficult situations.
|Photo by Elnur Amikishiyev via 123RF|
Tech-savvy and younger people are interested in VR, who may also be having children. Metz reports her experiences in trying VR applications. For the author, VR may help distract someone who is nervous about getting their blood drawn. However, the apps may not help Metz relax during childbirth. Even under the best circumstances, “VR isn’t for everyone,” she reminds.
VR can make some people feel nauseated. Hence, combining technology with labor may make some patients feel worse. Maternal-fetal medicine physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles Melissa Wong asserts, “Here's just no one-size-fits all to any of this.” VR was significantly helped Martucci in her childbirth, but It’s impossible to predict what will work out or not.