Photography by Martin W. Kane
Susan Miller (top left), director of Global Maternal and Newborn Operations at Laerdal Medical, gives a demonstration of the new UNCG SimMom

By Elizabeth Harrison

Active labor can be one of the riskiest moments in a woman and her infant’s life. Thanks to a new, state-of-the-art full-body childbirth simulator, UNCG nursing students will be prepared for even the most critical live-birth scenarios.
UNCG’s School of Nursing is the first school in the world to own the new version of “SimMom,” a high-tech female mannequin (accompanied by a simulated 6-pound newborn, placenta and umbilical cord) that allows students to simulate routine vaginal birthing scenarios and births with complications such as breech and vacuum-assisted deliveries, inverted uterus and prolapsed cord.
Students engage in the entire labor and delivery process, monitoring vitals and administering fluids and medications. Instructors use a laptop to control the robot’s responses, creating an experience for students that is remarkably realistic. The event is recorded so students and faculty can debrief together.
Between 1990 and 2013, the maternal mortality ratio for the U.S. more than doubled from an estimated 12 to 28 maternal deaths per 100,000 births, according to the World Health Organization. With this new version of SimMom, UNCG is at the forefront of helping to reduce those numbers.
Nursing students have used an older version of the simulator for years, but the mannequin was limited in what it could do to provide real-life scenarios. This fall, 100 nursing students are interacting with and learning from the SimMom upgrade, which the school purchased for $45,000 from Laerdal Medical, the Norwegian vendor of medical simulation and clinical education equipment.