Could Playing Video Games Relieve Labour Pain?

Could Playing Video Games Relieve Labour Pain?

If you’re currently pregnant and trying to write a birth plan, you may be researching pain relief options.

From TENS machines to epidurals, there are lots of different options out there.

One thing you probably won’t find on the list, however, is video games.

Distraction can play an important part in reducing discomfort during contractions.

Having something else to focus on can help you cope with contractions.

Breathing exercises are believed to help you focus on something other than strong contractions, and may prevent the fight or flight response in the body.

So if distraction works, are video games an option to add to your comfort measures list?

Electronic Distractions Can Reduce Perceived Pain

We already know electronic distractions can help to reduce perceived pain. In a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, children were shown cartoons during routine vaccinations to assess whether it reduced distress. The results showed children were less distressed during vaccinations when they were able to watch cartoons.

Watching television is a passive distraction.

Active distractions include things like video games, where the person is actively involved in the distraction.

A study published in Pain Research and Management found playing video games was an effective form of pain relief. Adult participants were asked to immerse their hand in cold water. The participants who did so whilst playing video games were able to keep their hands in the water for longer and also reported lower levels of pain than the control group who did not play video games during the task.

Could Electronic Distraction Work In Labour?

To date, there have been no trials focusing on the use of video games as pain relief during labour. However, mama and Life Hacker contributor, Rebecca Pollard, decided to try it out when she gave birth recently. According to her article, Pollard used simple smartphone games to distract herself during contractions.

The verdict? Pollard says it worked. Though perhaps it didn’t help during late labour, the video games helped to distract her from the pain during those crucial first few hours.

Of course, one woman’s experience doesn’t make this a scientific study, but perhaps it could be worth considering for when you give birth, should you find a need to be distracted. There are plenty of games available for your smartphone, so there’s no need to invest in new equipment or expensive games to try it out. If there’s already a game you love, simply keep it to hand during labour in case you feel the urge to distract yourself during a contraction.

If you are going to use your smartphone, be sure to turn it to airplane mode when you go into labour. Nobody needs to read endless messages asking if there’s “any news yet?” whilst they’re in the throes of a contraction!

For some fantastic tips for coping at home with early labour, see BellyBelly’s article, 8 Tips For A Low Stress Early Labour.

Recommended Reading

If you find to find out more about natural pain relief options, take a look at our article 13 Natural Pain Relief Options For Labour.



Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.

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