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GMA: Wearing a Virtual Reality Headset Eases the Pain of Labor

ABC's Good Morning America (GMA) recently interviewed Melissa Wong, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Cedars-Sinai, about results of a study showing that the use of virtual reality (VR) technology during childbirth reduced the pain of labor.

Women participating in the research who used a VR headset for a portion of their labor reported a statistically significant reduction in pain, while women who did not use the virtual reality tool had a statistically significant increase in pain. Wong and her team also found that those who did not use a VR headset had higher heart rates than those who did.

The study is the largest to date looking at the use of VR during labor. Wong served as lead author of the study, which she presented during the annual Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine conference.

“I think there is a tremendous opportunity to offer VR as another safe and effective option,” Wong told GMA. “And one that is medication-free to help ease a woman’s pain during childbirth.”

Cedars-Sinai is an international leader in medical virtual reality, with investigators exploring the potential of the technology to improve patient care, including the effectiveness of VR in combating pain for hospitalized patients.

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

Wong’s study enrolled 40 first-time moms who opted out of pain medication during labor. She checked their vital signs and pain levels as they used the VR headsets for up to 30 minutes during the labor process – three times the length of VR use examined in a previous study.

The content the women watched was specifically created by AppliedVR for the study. The headset content creators used a doula – a childbirth professional who offers special support during labor – to narrate the videos with specific messages such as breathing instructions.

Click here to read the complete story from Good Morning America.  

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Do Fertility and Ovulation Apps Work?