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Bloody childbirth simulator nets big design prize

MamaNatalie by Laerdal simulates the baby, uterus, blood, placenta, and all as a low-cost teaching aid for instructors and midwives.

Childbirth simulator
Laerdal Global Health

In some glorious day in the future, babies will be born via artificial uterus. The technology exists in science fiction so it's bound to become science fact. But until then, we're stuck with the miracle of life au naturel.

Our troglodyte ancestors had zero training for this messy rite of passage, but somehow managed it. Today there are countless books, courses, and professionals to help prepare, yet few aids are as realistic as a childbirth simulator from Laerdal Global Health that consists of a fake uterus, baby, umbilical cord, placenta, and blood.

The MamaNatalie Birthing Simulator recently picked up a prestigious INDEX: Award for design in the Body Category for helping reduce child and maternal mortality.

Known for its realistic training mannequins, the Norwegian company developed its Natalie Collection as a low-cost teaching aid for instructors and midwives.

The NeoNatalie Suction, NeoNatalie Newborn Simulator, and MamaNatalie Birthing Simulator are designed to save hundreds of thousands of lives, according to Denmark-based INDEX: Design to Improve Life.

The Birthing Simulator is a wearable device that mimics a woman's uterus and vagina. An instructor wears it while controlling simulated fetal heart sounds, the position of the Newborn Simulator mannequin baby before it emerges, the intensity of bleeding with up to 50 ounces of simulated blood, and delivery of the placenta, which is complete or partial.

It's designed to help midwives in the control of postpartum hemorrhage, which can lead to maternal death during childbirth. The NeoNatalie Suction, meanwhile, is a silicone device that helps suction baby nostrils.

The MamaNatalie equipment is already being used to train midwives and other birth professionals in a variety of settings from the U.S. to Africa. The kits cost $750.

"The widespread implementation of efficient training with the Helping Babies Breathe training program, while using the NeoNatalie collection equipment in Tanzania, has resulted shown in a 47 percent reduction in newborn death due to asphyxia," the INDEX group said in a release.

Check out the simulator in action in the vid below.