The road to birth: Using digital technology to visualise pregnancy anatomy

Donovan Jones, Michael Hazelton, Darrell J.R. Evans, Vendela Pento, Zi Siang See, Luka Van Leugenhaege, Shanna Fealy

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Pregnancy is a time of profound anatomical and physiological reorganisation. Understanding these dynamic changes is essential to providing safe and effective maternity care. Traditional teaching methods such as the use of static cadaver specimens are unable to illustrate and give appreciation to the concurrent fetal and maternal changes that occur during this time. This chapter describes the development of the Road to Birth (RtB) a collaborative, multi-modal, digital anatomy program, aimed to provide undergraduate midwifery students with a novel, visual, interactive and accessible, pregnancy education tool. The RtB digital anatomy program provides users with an internal view of pregnancy and fetal development, spanning 0–40 weeks of pregnancy, up to the immediate postpartum period. Users of the program have the opportunity to observe, interact and manipulate detailed 3D models and visualise the growth of a fetus and maternal anatomical changes simultaneously. The program is inclusive of detailed digital fetal and placental models that display both normal and pathological birth positions. The models are accompanied by written educational content that is hypothesised to support both technical and non-technical skill development. The RtB program has been deployed and tested amongst two international cohorts of undergraduate midwifery students. Findings indicate that the RtB as a mobile application and as an immersive virtual reality program have the potential to be useful pregnancy education tools with further empirical testing underway.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigital Anatomy
Subtitle of host publicationApplications of Virtual, Mixed and Augmented Reality
EditorsJean-François Uhl, Joaquim Jorge, Daniel Simões Lopes, Pedro F. Campos
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783030619053
ISBN (Print)9783030619046
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

Name Human–Computer Interaction Series
ISSN (Print)1571-5035
ISSN (Electronic)2524-4477


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