I have had a look around Second Life at the various different maternity cum birthing units to see how our work compares. When you do a search in Second Life and Google for maternity/birthing centers/units you will find that there are a number of results. Here are a few I have visited over the last couple of days.
Dreamscapes Maternity Center
The Dreamscapes Maternity Center is quite medicalised but it did give me a sense of what can be achieved in terms of animations and objects.
Here I am using an animation, ready to catch a baby. There are also animations for the birthing mother, and support partner.
Looking at the baby resusitaire.
Jungle Baby Birth Center
The Jungle Baby Birth Center is quite different and great fun.
There is a pool where you can give birth. I tried to be the birthing mother but nearly drowned in the rock pool. But I loved the fairies and elves that flew around keeping me company.
I am just not sure this environment would be considered 'appropriate' for teaching students by the serious amongst us, but I loved it.
Rock a Bye Babies Maternity Clinic and Birthing Center
The Rock a Bye Babies Maternity Clinic and Birthing Center seemed to be focused mostly on selling pregnancies, babies and baby regalia.
For the life of me, I cannot imagine why anyone would want to be pregnant and have a baby in Second Life. However, what it is really important for me to remember is that for many people, Second Life is a game and they have a completely different take on it compared to me, who looks at it mostly as a teaching tool.
TLC Babies Maternity Pediatric Clinic
The TLC Babies Maternity Pediatric Clinic has a similar feel to Rock a Bye Babies.
I had a chat with the owners of two of the maternity centers. They do big business selling baby regalia to people and having 'births' on their premises.
One of the owners had a medical background in real life but did not give out advice for real life situations because of the issue of litigation.
I asked one owner if women wanted natural birth in Second Life because they were unable to do so in real life, but she had the sense that that was not the case. It's a research project just crying to be carried out - anyone fancy funding me to do it!
All in all, I was pleased to see that our birth unit was dissimilar to the others that I visited, which will hopefully help it stand out in Second Life. It looks very different because it is not a commercial endeavor. And of course, it's purpose is very different. Nevertheless, I enjoyed talking to people I met and I think it would be very interesting to involve them in future research, looking at how people view birth in Second Life from a consumers' point of view, as opposed to an education perspective.
Do you use Second Life as a game? Have you ever had a virtual pregnancy and birth. If so, why? And how was your experience of virtual pregnancy and birth?