How Birth Simulators Work

        Science | Robotics

While birth simulators can very accurately recreate baby delivery, the impregnation process is a little less realistic. See more robot pictures.
Image courtesy of Gaumard Scientific

Childbirth is serious business. While it's often referred to as a miracle, modern hospital births involve a team of trained medical personnel all working to make that miracle happen. Considering all the noise and commotion a baby encounters in its first moments, it's no wonder they come out screaming. Birth simulators were invented to help ensure babies arrive with those healthy screams. These devices are physical, sometimes robotic simulations of the human body used to train medical professionals in infant delivery.

It's an unfortunate fact of life that a lot can go wrong during childbirth. In the 1700s, women faced a 1 in 8 chance of dying during childbirth [source: Mintz]. Birth complications like postpartum hemorrhaging, infections and other complications made giving birth as much a source of terror as joy to the average expectant mother.

And these aren't just problems of the past. According to a study in the medical journal Lancet, maternal deaths in the United States actually rose from 11.5 per 100,000 deliveries in 1990 to 16.7 per 100,000 in 2008 [source: Rogers]. Recent data suggests that in the United States, as many as 9 out of 10 women who give birth in a hospital experience some kind of complication during delivery [source: Elixhauser, Weis].

With so much at stake, no medical practitioner would want to perform his or her first delivery in such a high-risk situation. But for centuries, there was no other option. The invention of birth simulators enabled medical staff to practice performing deliveries without risk to patients. These simulators imitate the entire labor process from start to finish, and they're getting more sophisticated all the time with advancements in electronic components, virtual forceps and sensors that even provide pain feedback.

Now let's start exploring the history and development of these technology-loaded female impersonators.