Despite centuries of advancements in medical science and countless babies born, the topic of childbirth has managed to remain, somehow, slightly mysterious. Why? Personally, I think it's because even though we have ultrasounds during pregnancy and fetal monitors during delivery, we still can't really see what's going on in there when push comes to shove (literally, sort of). Except someday in the not-too-distant future, all of that could change: There's a new computer program, recently developed by researchers in England, which uses 3D virtual reality to simulate human birth. Incorporating factors such as the size and shape of both the mother's and baby's bodies, the program could potentially save lives by helping doctors and midwives prepare for "unusual or dangerous births." Just check out this shot and you'll see why:
More primitive versions of childbirth simulators have been used by doctors before, of course, but this is the first with patient-specific technology: Doctors can scan a pregnant woman's body and adapt the simulator accordingly; they can also run a variety of different scenarios based on previous births. The only thing this program lacks is movements of the perineal muscles of the mother's pelvis and movements of the fetus. Eventually, though, developers hope to be able to run the birth simulator during the birth itself, which would let doctors see exactly what's going on and adjust their approach to the delivery. Still, the program now will help medical professionals to decide, for example, whether a baby is too large or in the wrong position to be delivered vaginally -- so even at this point, the simulator could be a huge plus in the delivery room.
Would you want doctors to use a 3D birth simulator during your delivery?
Image via livescience