Emergency Birth: What to do when you can’t get to the hospital
When there are loads of precautions to avoid emergency pregnancies, why not when there are pregnancies that need emergency deliveries?
So here’s the drill, on what to carry and do, just in case, the mother-to-be, her partner or whoever is with her at the time, can’t make it in time to get her to the hospital to go into labor.
According to The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) and few other sources, to be fully prepped for emergency deliveries:
Stay calm and ask the lady in labor to take slow deep breaths, panicking will just make it feel a lot worse. As you do that, call 911; ask for an emergency ambulance from the nearest hospital. If they can’t make it in time, ask for a birthing professional, mid-wife or anyone who can verbally guide you on the phone, to deliver the baby yourself, while help is on the way. Make sure you tell the person guiding you on the phone about the pertinent details of the pregnancy e.g. it’s premature, there are complications etc. Be as detailed as you can.
Make sure you keep an emergency pregnancy first-aid kit with you at all times, be it in your car or bag or even at home. Make sure it is sealed and kept away pets, children and is waterproof. The contents of this kit should be:
- Five to six clean towels
- A clean sheet to catch the baby
- A bottle of liquid antibacterial soap or hand sanitizer
- A box of new disposable plastic or latex gloves
- Hot water
- A small bulb syringe, for the baby (it is made of soft plastic, and is usually an ear syringe, but in this case it will be used as a nasal syringe, so it can fit into the baby’s nose without discomfort)
- A small bottle of distilled medical use alcohol to sterilize any tools you may use
- A dozen large sanitary pads or disposable diapers
Start preparing the place, sterilize the surface with the medical-alcohol, and wipe with a towel. After sanitizing put some clean towels down on the surface, ask the pregnant woman to lie down on it and keep a clean sheet ready to hold the baby once it’s out. Wash or sanitize your hands and put on the gloves then.
Calculate the time between each contraction to know how soon the baby is going to be born, if they get shorter that means she may be ready to give birth, if not she could make it to the hospital in time. Do keep watch for signs that the baby is coming such as seeing the baby crowning i.e. the baby’s head slowly coming out of the vagina. That’s when you ask her to push each time she feels a contraction.
Whatever you do, do not interfere with the process, such as helping pull the baby out. All you need to do is keep the sheet ready to gently hold the baby’s head as it’s born. Again, do not try to help with the process. The shoulders come out one after another, so after one is done, be ready for the second one to be released. When one shoulder is about to come out, that’s when an extra push is needed. So ask the mother-to-be to push for around 10 to 12 counts, and then carefully hold the baby’s head downward to allow the rest of its body to come through. Ask her to push all the way through as the baby’s body slowly reveals itself.
After the baby has been born, lay him or her down on the sheet. Use the little tube to help him or her breathe by draining any fluids from the nose and mouth (ask a professional how to do it first). Do not cut the umbilical cord until medical personnel have arrived.
Throughout the process, it is important to be very delicate when handling the baby. Even if the baby looks stuck, do not try to tug, pull, or help it come out. If the placenta comes out before medical help arrives, use the period pads and diapers to soak in the excess blood. To stop the mother’s bleeding, give a little massage by applying some pressure to her belly.
An emergency case is always the worst-case scenario, so it’s important to have the best-case solutions on point. Make sure you ask your midwife to be on stand-by or close by if the baby needs to be delivered before medical assistance can reach you. Also, make sure you and your partner discuss any concerns you may have, along with your doctor or mid-wife and get a brief about what to do if the delivery were to happen in public or at home.