‘Pretend mum’ helps maternity team practice for emergencies

‘Pretend mum’ helps maternity team practice for emergencies

The maternity department at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded a £30,000 government grant to buy a new life-like birthing simulator called SimMom. The realistic mannequin has accurate anatomy and functionality, complete with a ‘bump’ and a birthing baby inside, so the team can practice different labour and birth scenarios.

Labour Ward Manager Louise Emmett explains: “We were awarded the money from the Department of Health as part of a national drive to improve safety in maternity and reduce stillbirth. Emergency situations are by nature unexpected and high pressured and using a simulator is one of the best ways to practice how we should react. It’s vital that every member of the team – including midwives, obstetric consultants, anaesthetists, theatre nurses, operating department practitioners and maternity care assistants– know and understand their role, so there is no delay in deciding ‘who will do what’ and they can work together seamlessly and quickly.

“SimMom is very versatile; we can connect her to a computer and programme her to reenact different emergencies we may experience in maternity – for example, a woman is very unwell and collapses, develops an infection or starts to bleed heavily, or we suddenly find a baby is breech (head up rather than head down). The team can then use SimMom to practice their clinical skills – such as ventilation, intubation, CPR and IV access and different ways of delivering the baby, including moving SimMom into different positions and assisted delivery with forceps or ventouse.

“The beauty of SimMom is that she is easily transportable, so we can take her anywhere on the unit, set up a scenario without warning and put the team through their paces. Our Neonatal team also has a ‘SimBaby’, which we are able to connect to SimMom to practice our responses in a dual emergency. As everything is computerised, we are then able to assess afterwards how the emergency was handled – debriefing the team on what worked well and what could be done differently or improved upon.

“SimMom is a great way of enabling staff to put their theoretical training into practice, in a situation as close to real life as possible. It builds on and facilitates other training programmes we provide at the Trust – such as the SCReaM initiative, which uses visual aids and prompts to help staff make the best decisions when things don’t go as planned in theatre. It’s a brilliant training tool to have and we are really pleased to have been awarded the grant to buy it and improve safety and the outcomes for women and their babies in the future.”

Pictured above: Some of the maternity team practicing on SimMom in theatres, including (left to right): Deputy Associate Director of Maternity Louise Emmett, Clinical Skills Facilitator Helen Matthews, Consultant Anaesthetist Sam Soltanifer, Simulation Lead Janet Wright and Practice Development Midwife Sarah MacDonald.

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