Better Birth through Games: The Design of the Prepared Partner and Digital Birth

Better Birth through Games: The Design of the Prepared Partner and Digital Birth

Alexandra Holloway
DOI: 10.4018/jgcms.2013070104
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Childbirth is a complex and multidimensional experience for the mother, riddled with unforgettable emotions and sensations. In today’s cultural climate in California, a mother’s primary attendant for social support throughout labor is usually her partner. Preparing the partner is an integral step to making sure that the mother is well-supported in her birth. Because the mother’s experience is influenced by the support she receives, and because birth partners need more support than is recognized, the author targets birth partners with a learning intervention. The author investigates video games as a vehicle for knowledge transfer to the birth partner, both as currently available and as a positive learning tool. To address the problem of limited access to childbirth preparation methods, especially for under-served Californians, the author investigated, designed, created, and evaluated two tools: The Prepared Partner and Digital Birth. The Prepared Partner is an online Flash game, and Digital Birth is a free iPhone application that is still undergoing revision and testing. Both games allow the user to practice various supportive actions in the realm of childbirth support for a mother in labor. The author found that players met the learning goals due to The Prepared Partner, and answered positively on the survey questions about their enjoyment of the game.
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Childbirth Preparation

The first stage of our research into a tool to help women have a positive birth experience was to investigate how women and their birth partners prepare for birth. We examine the relationship between the childbirth preparation, feelings of preparedness, learning in childbirth, and overall satisfaction with the birth experience.

Our literature review revealed that childbirth preparation is related to satisfaction regarding childbirth or the choice of childbirth method. However, many of these studies have a limited user base and focus on a few types of childbirth preparation methods.

The Listening to Mothers II survey (LTM) (Declercq, Sakala, Corry, & Applebaum, 2007) summarizes the habits of American women in preparing to conceive, preparing for labor and birth, the birth outcomes and statistics, and postpartum demographics, including breastfeeding incidence and duration. The survey found that the most important source of information about pregnancy and childbirth for first-time mothers (33%, N=146) was books, followed by friends and/or relatives (19%), and the Internet (16%). Childbirth education classes were cited as important only 10% of the time, although most (56%) first-time mothers enrolled and attended such classes.

There has been a significant amount of research about the benefits of childbirth preparation. Lumley and Brown showed that attenders of childbirth education classes did not show increased satisfaction with their birth experience compared to the non-attenders (Lumley & Brown, 1993). Nichols came to the same conclusion: attending childbirth class did not have an effect on childbirth satisfaction (Nichols, 1995). Fabian, et al. found that although there were no statistical differences between attenders and non-attenders of childbirth class in terms of birth experience, those that attended classes were more likely to opt for an epidural during labor (Fabian, Rådestad, & Waldenstro¨m, 2005).

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