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GMA: Mom Who Gave Birth While Wearing VR Headset

Good Morning America (GMA) recently interviewed Melissa Wong, MD, an OBGYN and maternal fetal medicine specialist at Cedars-Sinai, as part of a story about a mother who used virtual reality (VR) to reduce pain during childbirth. According to Wong, Cedars-Sinai is one of only two or three hospitals in the U.S. to offer VR to women in labor.

“Laboring women represent a population that is vulnerable and looking for options for complementary and alternative methods for managing pain,” Wong told GMA. “I wanted to make sure there was data instead of virtual reality being something that was going to be marketed, quite frankly, inappropriately.”

In February, Wong expects to publish results of a yearlong study. According to GMA, the study will be the most comprehensive to date on whether VR during labor is a data-proven option that more hospitals should offer.

Results will include data from 40 first-time moms involved in the trial. Their vital signs and pain levels were tracked as they used the VR headset for up to 30 minutes during the labor process.

To conduct the study, Wong worked with a California-based VR company that enlisted the help of a doula to create visualizations and guided narration focused on getting pregnant women through contractions and delivery.

"You know your body is progressing through labor but it gives you something to concentrate on," said Erin Martucci, a New York mom who used VR while giving birth to her third child. "I really focused on what was presented in front of me during contractions and the guidance helped me breathe and stay in control and calm."

Wong predicts VR will be used to complement—not replace—existing pain management tools.

“VR, to me, represents potentially one other method for helping manage pain that would be non-pharmacological for women interested in it,” Wong told GMA. “It doesn’t have to be in lieu of anything and it doesn’t have to replace epidurals for women.”

Read the complete story here.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai blog: Virtual Reality Offers Real Pain Relief