Delivering your first baby can be nerve wracking and it was no different for doctors helping their first patient in full labor.

“I was definitely a little nervous because I’ve never done this before, but I was also very excited,” said third-year UCF medical student Karen Lu. “And I certainly learned a lot in terms of proper positioning and what hand maneuvers I need to do to get the baby out safely.”

Lu didn’t practice on a real patient. She practiced on Victoria a state-of -the-art life-sized medical mannequin used to train healthcare workers and students about delivering babies. Only a few medical schools offer this type of simulation training for their students. UCF’s Victoria is pregnant, has contractions, and gives birth to a crying baby – another tiny lifelike mannequin. The mannequin blinks, breathes, screams in pain, even bleeds and has all parts of the anatomy needed to give birth. The students not only learn the motions and maneuvers of the delivery process. They are also taught to calm and encourage their patient and give positive feedback throughout the birth.

“Victoria is a great model to introduce students to the stages of labor and prepare them to deliver a baby,” said UCF College of Medicine volunteer faculty member Dr. Aileen Caceres who leads the training session, “so that when they are on the hospital labor floor, they know the basics of what to expect.” The training session is a collaboration between the College of Medicine and Orlando Health, who owns the simulation technology, and was training Lu and 13 other third-year students in their first days of a six-week clerkship in obstetrics and gynecology. During their training, the students will work on the OB-GYN floor at four Central Florida hospitals.

Before the simulation exercise, the students receive a lecture on the different stages of labor and the necessary procedures for each stage. They work in groups of two or three. One delivers the baby, another delivers the placenta and the third student is in charge of the instruments needed for the procedure. During the simulation, Caceres talks students through the stages of labor and the necessary actions they should take at each point for a smooth delivery.

“Being able to do this in a simulated environment allows students to ask questions without being afraid,” said Caceres, an OB-GYN specialist at Florida Hospital who is also director of the obstetrics and gynecology clerkship at the medical school. “If you have never delivered a baby, that can be a real nerve-wracking experience, so this experience allows them to be nervous and sweat it out here.”

“The students get to know what the anatomical landmarks are,” she explained. “They get to see contractions and learn what to do at every stage. It’s as close to the real life experience as possible. I wish I had this in medical school when I was studying.”

The students also learn some soft skills.

“I encourage the students to interact with Victoria and give her positive feedback. All mothers appreciate that after hours of pushing,” Caceres said.

After the birth, students are taught how to clamp and cut the umbilical cord, suction the baby’s nose and mouth, and how to hold the baby and then hand it to the mother for their first skin-to-skin contact.

“This is what we call a high fidelity simulation, where things are a lot like the real world,” said Orlando Health learning consultant, J.J. Becker, who controls Victoria from a laptop during the simulation. “Victoria has contractions and the baby’s head goes through all the movements that a baby normally does to wiggle its way out of the birth canal. We can also add complications and use the same tools and maneuvers that we use in the real world to relieve those complications.”

For the med students’ first delivery experience, the scenario is an uncomplicated headfirst vaginal delivery. However, Victoria can also be programmed to have complications such as breech births, post-partum hemorrhaging or shoulder dystocia – where the babies shoulders are stuck during birth – and can even deliver by C-section.

“I feel like I am still going to be nervous the first time I have to do it in real life, since I don’t feel like I am fully prepared yet,” said Firas Sbeih, a third-year medical student who will spend the next six weeks at Osceola Regional Medical Center. “But it’s definitely going to be easier since I now know what to expect, what to do, what instruments we’re going to be using, and I am looking forward to experiencing it in real life.”

The College of Nursing also uses a similar high-tech mannequin to help train its students.