Medics at Royal Preston Hospital were among the first in the country to trial a new real life birthing simulator which is the most advanced of its kind.
Aasma Day finds out how the marvellous mannequin can help train the midwives and doctors of the future.
Hands-on experience learning how to deal with different situations is vastly superior to anything that can be taught from a textbook.
When it comes to births, they can be very unpredictable and trainee midwives and junior doctors have to be prepared to be faced with all kinds of scenarios.
Now, a realistic and technologically advanced birthing simulator can help train the medics of tomorrow by giving them a chance to practice real life birth situations in the most life-like way possible.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals became one of the first trusts in the country to try out a highly advanced birthing simulator which is now touring birth centres around the country.
The mannequin called Victoria is a state-of-the-art simulation of a full-term expectant mother who is about to give birth and also features the unborn baby inside.
The simulator has been made by an American company and costs in the region of £40,000 for the basic model without the extras.
However, hospital experts at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals believe the training opportunities of the simulator are priceless and are hoping to receive a permanent one in the future.
Victoria can breathe, talk, scream, push and has contractions. The baby also moves and cries.
Lorna Lees, human pat-ient simulation administrator and technician at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, says: “Victora is so wonderfully life-like and amazing and she is also tetherless and has an eight-hour battery life, which means we can take her out of the simulation suite and into wards, clinics and the community if needed.
“Doctors, nurses, midwives and healthcare professionals can all learn from it, not just as individuals, but as teams.
“If we get this simulator at the hospital permanently, it will really benefit us as it will give students the opportunity to become involved in different kinds of births.”
Victoria the mannequin can demonstrate a normal or breech birth and a Caesarean section, as well as many other obstetric emergencies.
The simulator is being used to train medical students and trainee midwives in how to deal with such emergencies in practice rather than waiting until they happen for real.
Lorna explains: “Not all births are plain sailing and this simulator mannequin allows students to practice breech births, assisted deliveries and they can even do Caesarean sections on her.
“When the baby comes out you can even programme it to be cyanised, which is when the baby is blue from lack of oxygen.
“The baby mannequin also cries and moves its head. It is so life like.
“With the mother mannequin, we can also do things like post partum haemorrhages and she can bleed.
“She also ‘delivers’ the baby herself and you can check the foetus heart rate.
“We already have a simulator mum in the simulation suite, but you have to help her deliver and this new simulator Victoria is far superior in all the things it can do.
“This advanced mannequin is phenomenal and if we get one at this hospital trust, it will allow students to practice techniques safely and in a controlled environment. If students make a mistake here, we can just re-set the mannequin. Because it is hands-on experience, people tend to remember what they have learnt more than they would if they just read it in a text book.”
Susan Sherlock, head of midwifery at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, says: “This mannequin is a great way to demonstrate a birth as realistically as possible.
“A lot of our medical students don’t have the opportunity to witness or take part in a real life birth while training, so the simulator is a really good way to give them insight and the opportunity to learn.
“Every labour is different and our staff often need to act fast, so it’s important that our students can see what happens and all the possible eventualities before they are in the situation for real.”
Karen Partington, chief executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, says: “We are delighted to be one of the first places in the country to use this simulator. It is extremely beneficial for our students and means they will be as prepared as possible as can deliver excellent care with compassion for our expectant mothers and their families.”