Hospital hopes to ease labor pain with virtual reality

Posted at 6:29 AM, Aug 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-11 09:29:03-04

Doctors at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix want to use virtual reality headsets to ease the pain of women in labor.

"Educated moms are looking for an experience that really doesn't involve having to take medications in labor -- or epidurals -- or inhale gases,” said Dr. Michael Foley. “They just want to make it as natural as possible.”

Foley leads the team planning a pilot program at the hospital. The videos being considered show soothing beach scenes and ‘out-of-this-world’ visualizations.

“What this does is facilitate your journey to that happy place, which is kind of nice,” Foley said.

It’s not just for fun.  

Foley told ABC15 women will use the virtual reality headsets anywhere from ten to thirty minutes before childbirth. Research shows it drastically reduces the need for narcotic medications before, during and after, he said.

"The pain's there but you're distracted in a way that you don't need the medication.”

Banner plans to begin the pilot program in October. They are still deciding who will be eligible to participate.