Robot baby helps prepare doctors for emergencies

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--- Severe complications during childbirth are rare in the United States, but they can happen.

This is why doctors are turning to a new, high-tech set-up.

A robotic baby teaches delivery room doctors and nurses how to respond to the unexpected, especially when seconds count.

A mom can be in labor, a baby is on the way, then a shoulder gets stuck and the birth is no longer just normal.

Thankfully Dr. Roger Coven, OB/GYN at The Valley Hospital, has rarely seen these incidents turn into something serious.

“But you still have to obviously be prepared for them,” said Dr. Coven.

Thanks to patient robot Noelle, doctors and nurses can prepare for any imaginable labor complication.

"We can make her bleed; we can program her to have a seizure," said Nurse Beth McGovern, a Clinical Practice Specialist at The Valley Hosptial.

Noelle keeps the staff on its toes, practicing teamwork and perfecting performance.

"What did we do really well, what didn't we do so well, and what are we gonna improve on," said Nurse McGovern.

Noelle and baby Hal are maternal and neo-natal simulators at The Valley Hospital in New Jersey.

Mother and child are doing fine helping others practice for real-life happy endings

However, robots aren't limited to the maternity ward; five year old Pedi was just admitted.

The maternal simulators also serve as a teaching tool to student doctors and nurses.

Anesthesiologists use them to practice giving epidurals, and new nurses learn to time contractions.

“In the past, we mostly lectured, you know, we would bring people in maybe have a power point," said Nurse McGovern.


TOPIC: Robot Birth
REPORT: MB #3786

BACKGROUND: During delivery, perinatal asphyxia is the main cause of morbidity and mortality in newborns. The risk is high in pre-term and term infants. Correct assistance during the first minutes of life is crucial. There are a few interventions that can be performed, like gentle airway cleaning, good ventilation and maintaining a good blood pressure. Permanent brain damages are related not only to the length and the severity of asphyxia but mainly to the cardiac activity and to the circulation. In infant mortality, the United States ranks 27th among industrialized nations. (Source:;

SIGNS/SYMPTOMS: Fortunately, most newborns thrive, but for every 1,000 babies that are born, six die during their first year. Most of the babies die because they are born with a serious birth defect, born too small and too early or there are maternal complications. Some other causes are placenta, cord or membrane complications, respiratory distress, bacteria sepsis, neonatal hemorrhage, or circulatory system diseases. (Source:;

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Robots are now being used to train doctors and nurses so they can respond quickly to newborn distress. The robot, Noelle, is a full-sized mannequin that can give birth and be used to simulate a variety of obstetrical, medical and surgical emergencies. There is also a baby mannequin, "Hal", which is used in the training. Simulation training can be accomplished with no risk to the patient. According to The Valley Hospital, it also allows nurses, physicians and members of the health care team practice and reviews their performance. It is also valuable in high-risk, low frequency occurrences, which staff may not see often in their careers. (Source:


Beth McGovern, MSN, RNC-OB
Clinical Practice Specialist
The Valley Hospital

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