headsets could soon be given to women in childbirth and ...

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headsets successfully reduced anxiety and pain for women during childbirth and abortions. 

In the first phase of a major new trial testing VR in childbirth at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, all of the women involved said the experience left them less anxious, and most (57 percent) said it reduced their pain. 

Another study, at UCLA, found women who used VR headsets for more than five minutes during an abortion in the first trimester felt less anxious.   

The studies, being presented at this week's annual conference for the American College of Gynecology, represent small but significant steps towards a very different approach to dealing with pain, anxiety, excitement and fear in pregnant women. 

Cedars-Sinai's VR for childbirth trial used an experience by AppliedVR, designed by a doula, Ana Paula Merckel, who has 20 years' experience in 'hypnobirthing'. One of the three stages involves a blossoming tree

Cedars-Sinai's VR for childbirth trial used an experience by AppliedVR, designed by a doula, Ana Paula Merckel, who has 20 years' experience in 'hypnobirthing'. One of the three stages involves a blossoming tree

The first experiences designed to distract from pain started emerging in the last few years, largely to treat acute pain and burns.  

Despite the high cost of the devices - around $700 per headset - the concept quickly gained attention as a way to treat chronic pain instead of opioids, as addiction rates continue to climb. 

Now, with the innovation of much cheaper paper headsets, the potential is even greater - and medics of all fields are starting to investigate how they could use it. 

The vision of wards decked out with women wearing headsets may seem sci-fi and a world away from what we think would qualify for a 'natural' birthing experience. 

But doulas like Merckel are all for VR, and she thinks more experiences should be designed to provide pre-natal training for women, rather than the talks and books they currently have.   

In fact, it's obstetricians who have been more skeptical of the technology, Dr Melissa Wong, the lead OBGYN testing VR for childbirth at Cedars Sinai, told DailyMail.com.  

'I'm very practical, I take a scientific and evidence-based approach to everything,' Dr Wong explained.

'I was coming to it as a bit of a skeptic.'

But when she was approached by directors at Cedars Sinai about pioneering a study on VR in the delivery room, she was eager to see if there was any merit to it.

Many women have been left concerned by now largely-debunked studies that an early epidural could lengthen their labor or have dangerous consequences.

Many others simply want to keep their experience as natural as possible.  

'There are many things that women are offered and, quite frankly, sold as things you can do in labor to avoid or delay an epidural,' Dr Wong said.  

'I wanted to see whether it was going to be beneficial.

'Patients want alternatives. It’s not so much that I need to have a reason to avoid an epidural but I want to provide something to women that want an

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