VR to improve understanding of childbirth experiences for parents-to-be at Hull hospital

New VR headsets at Hull Women and Children's Hospital are set to help parents-to-be prepare for the birth of their children.


[East Yorkshire, UK] Hull Women and Children's Hospital is introducing Virtual Reality (VR) headsets to improve understanding of labour and birth experiences in what has been dubbed the 'first practical application of VR in a maternity patient setting'. 

The project allows parents-to-be to virtually see the experience of a woman using a birthing pool and ‘join’ an operating theatre where a patient is undergoing a caesarean section.

“The headsets mean people feel like they are in the room, seeing the facilities all around them and watching how midwives interact with mothers and partners during labour,” said Janet Cairns, Head of Midwifery at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Prospective parents were reportedly able to road-test the headsets at an event organised by the trust this week.

“We already offer a video tour of the hospital so people can familiarise themselves with their surroundings before they come in.

“However, we want to give prospective parents as much information in as many different formats as we can so they can make choices that are right for them and their babies,” Cairns added.

The hospital’s midwifery team worked with the Hull Institute of Learning and Simulation (HILS) to record the footage needed for the VR headsets, and the trust says they are now looking into how it can be used to provide training for staff and offer other virtual experiences. 

Assessing feedback from 130 people, the HILS team found 94% said the initiative ‘overall helped them feel better prepared for the birth of their babies’, according to the trust.

Earlier this month, BJ-HC reported that London-based FundamentalVR launched a new software platform using VR and haptic sensors to help trainee surgeons, simulating the feel of performing an operation. 

Leontina Postelnicu

To share tips, news or announcements, contact the writer on lpostelnicu@himss.org

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