A new study may point to a new way of treating labor pain in women that would avoid the use of epidural, though the research is still preliminary. Virtual reality was shown to be effective in reducing labor pains. Medpage Today reports.
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Forty women were recruited for the study, which was an unblinded randomized clinical trial. Half of the women used a labor-specific VR session for 30 minutes. that gave the women relaxing visuals and messages. The other group received no intervention. No pain medication was allowed for either group and the VR group was cleared for side effects related to VR use before participating.
The VR group experienced a reduction in pain while the control group experienced an increase. The heart rate of the control group was also about 10 points higher than the VR group. After the testing session was complete, most of the women still opted for an epidural for the remainder of labor.
Researchers are unsure whether it was the VR itself that caused the pain reduction or the fact that it was a distraction. More research is needed. Finding ways to reduce labor pains without medication could lead to less medicine used and better outcomes for babies, who can be harmed from epidurals.