Simulation of the uterine contractions and foetus expulsion using a chemo-mechanical constitutive model

  • M. C. P. Vila Pouca
  • J. P. S. Ferreira
  • D. A. Oliveira
  • M. P. L. Parente
  • M. T. Mascarenhas
  • R. M. Natal Jorge
Original Paper


During vaginal delivery women sustain stretching of their pelvic floor, risking tissue injury and adverse outcomes. Since studies in pregnant women are limited with ethical constraints, computational models have become an interesting alternative to elucidate the pregnancy mechanisms. This research investigates the uterine contractions during foetus expulsion without an imposed trajectory. Such physical process is captured by means of a chemo-mechanical constitutive model, where the uterine contractions are triggered by chemical stimuli. The foetus descent, which includes both pushing and resting stages, has a descent rate within the physiological range. Moreover, the behaviour of the foetus and the uterus stretch agree well with clinical data presented in the literature. The follow-up of this study will be to obtain a complete childbirth simulation, considering also the pelvic floor muscles and its supporting structures. The simulation of a realistic rate of descent, including the pushing and resting stages, is of significant importance to study the pelvic floor muscles due to their viscoelastic nature.


Childbirth Uterus contraction Chemo-mechanical model Finite element method Continuum mechanics 



The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Authors gratefully acknowledge the support from the Portuguese Foundation of Science under Grants IF/00159/2014 and SFRH/BD/107860/2015, and the funding of Project NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-030062 and NORTE-01-0145‐FEDER-000022 SciTech‐Science and Technology for Competitive and Sustainable Industries, cofinanced by Norte’s Regional Operational Programme (NORTE2020), through European Regional Development Fund (FEDER).

Supplementary material

10237_2019_1117_MOESM1_ESM.avi (435.7 mb)
The video submitted as supplementary material shows the evolution of the vertical displacement of the foetus head and the distributionof the maximum principal stresss (MPa) in the uterus throughout the simulation discussed in Sect. 4.1. (AVI 446167 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EngineeringUniversity of PortoOportoPortugal
  2. 2.INEGI – Institute of Science and Innovation in Mechanical and Industrial EngineeringOportoPortugal
  3. 3.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, São João Hospital Center –EPE, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of PortoOportoPortugal

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