Jessica Tate’s Virtual Pregnancy: A lesson in “normal”

Midwives-in-training now have a new way to learn about pregnancy and childbirth.  Instead of practicing on live patients, the BBC reports on a new computer program designed to give students the chance to practice examinations and diagnosis. Using graphics, video and sound, midwifery students are taken on an imaginary journey through the pregnancy of Jessica Tate – from its earliest stages, to early labour.

The program has been running at Swansea University since 2004, and has won a top award. Presenteres of the award say they’d like to see the program used at other universities as well.

Creators of the program wanted students to become familiar with a normal pregnancy and normal birth… with minimum intervention. So Jessica’s experience is pretty “normal”, with small problems cropping up to “challenge” the students.

Susanne Darra, one of the program’s authors, says, “There is a big issue in the western world with ‘problem’ births and it doesn’t have to be like this. We have a strong trend to alert people to problems, but most of the time things turn out fine.”

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