The key resource for the design of the virtual birth unit in Second Life is the work of Bianca Lepori who is an Italian architect: Mindbodyspirit architecture: creating birth space (Lepori, Foureur and Hastie, 2008). Bianca believes that the architectural design of a birthing space should take into consideration the spiritual and emotional aspects of birth, as much as the physical ones.
Moving, feeling and dreaming body
I cannot repeat all the features that Bianca talks about in the book chapter, so if you're interested, I strongly recommend you look at the book. Because it is a new book, it cannot be accessed at Google Books, so I'm afraid you'll have to beg, borrow or steal. Or you can get hold of the editors: Kathleen Fahy, Maralyn Foureur and Carolyn Hastie.
Here is a summary of her main points.
The moving body
The woman needs to be able to move around, to have the space and freedom to get into whatever position she wants in order to keep the baby moving through the birth canal.
The feeling body
The woman needs to have access to soft textures and firm, supportive surfaces; to be touched or not, as she wishes; the right temperature; have access to water flowing or still; to feel loved, respected and supported.
The dreaming body
The dreaming body is instinctive and responds to images and colours. So women may need access to dark and quiet environments; needs to remain focused so should not be distracted by harsh noise and bright light; responds to curves, not sharp angles.
I have already mentioned a number of the design features that Bianca advocates in my previous posts. Here are a few more that I haven't mentioned:
- culturally safe
- images of beauty, mother and earth in forms of artwork
- rounded corners and edges to furniture and walls
- low wall for leaning on
- rope suspended from the ceiling for hanging on
- ability to move medical gases, suction and emergency equipment to where the woman is
- window to outside world
- pleasant area to walk in, both inside and outside
- door at the side of the room - bed not in line of sight
- toilet and shower room en suite, but big enough to birth in if the need arises
- natural materials such as timber and tiles - avoid metal surfaces
- secure places for woman to lock her things away
- equipment hidden out of view
- natural light - no overhead light
- windows low enough to see view when lying down in bed
- sound proofed rooms so woman cannot hear other labouring women
- CD playing music of woman's choice
- comfortable accommodation for supporters - access to telephone, food and drink, shower and toilet
- food and drink available for woman and family - toaster, microwave, iced water, fridge
- telephone in room
- non-slip floor surface.
Bianca also advocates the careful consideration of colour based on the seven chakras which are associated with the body energy system.
Red - security, sense of survival, trust
Orange - sexuality, relationships with others
Yellow - personal power, self-confidence
Green - love, compassion, forgiveness
Blue - communication, giving and receiving information
Purple - intuition, self-realisation, letting go of negative thoughts, wisdom
Violet - spirituality, connection to "God"
What do you think of Bianca's ideas? What would you suggest? Does this make sense or do you think it's a load of new age baloney? How do you think we can integrate these features into our virtual birth unit?
Lepori, B. (1994). Freedom of Movement in Birth Places. Children’s Environments, 11, 2, 1-12. Retrieved 8 January, 2009, from http://www.colorado.edu/journals/cye/11_2/11_2article1.pdf
Lepori, B., Foureur, M., & Hastie, C. (2008). Mindbodyspirit architecture: creating birth space. In K. Fahy, M. Foureur & C. Hastie (Eds.), Birth territory and midwifery guardianship (pp 95-112). Edinburgh: Elsevier.