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You are here: Home -> Labor and Delivery -> Emergency Childbirth Today: Wednesday, December 13
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Emergency Childbirth

Occasionally a woman goes into labor and can't make it to the hospital. Emergency childbirth can happen to anyone, so it's best to be prepared. Read and study the information on these two pages. Have the names and telephone numbers of your doctor or healthcare provider and those of friends or family written down near the phone. And if it happens to you, try to relax and follow these instructions.

Emergency Delivery If You Are Alone

Call 911 for help.
Call a neighbor, close family member or friend (have phone numbers available).
Try not to push or bear down.
Find a comfortable place, and spread out towels or blankets.
If the baby comes before help arrives, try to use your hands to ease the baby out while you gently push.
Wrap the baby in a clean blanket or clean towels; hold it close to your body to keep it warm.
Use a clean cloth or tissue to remove mucus from the baby's mouth.
Do not pull on the umbilical cord to deliver the placenta—it is not necessary.
If the placenta delivers on its own, save it.
Tie string or a shoelace around a section of the cord. You don't need to cut the cord.
Try to keep yourself and your baby warm until medical help arrives.

Emergency Delivery at Home

Call 911 for help.
Call a neighbor, family member or friend (have phone numbers available).
Encourage the woman not to push or to bear down.
Use blankets and towels to make the woman as comfortable as possible.
If there is time, wash the woman's vaginal and rectal areas with soap and water.
When the baby's head delivers, encourage the woman not to push or bear down. Instead, have her pant or blow, and concentrate on not pushing.
Try to ease out the baby's head with gentle pressure. Do not pull on the head.
After the head is delivered, gently push down on the head and push a little to deliver the shoulders.
As one shoulder delivers, lift the head, delivering the other shoulder. The rest of the baby will follow quickly.
Wrap the baby in a clean blanket or clean towels.
Use a clean cloth or tissue to remove mucus from the baby's mouth.
Do not pull on the umbilical cord to deliver the placenta—it is not necessary.
If the placenta delivers on its own, wrap it in a towel or clean newspapers, and save it.
Tie string or a shoelace around a section of the cord. You don't need to cut the cord.
Keep the placenta at the level of the baby or above the baby.
Keep mother and baby warm with towels or blankets until medical help arrives.

Emergency Delivery on the Way to the Hospital

Pull over and stop the car.
Try to get help, if you have a cellular phone or a CB radio.
Put on your flashing warning lights.
Place the woman in the back seat, with a towel or blanket under her.
Encourage the woman not to push or bear down.
When the baby's head delivers, encourage the woman not to push or bear down. Instead, have her pant or blow, and concentrate on not pushing.
Try to ease out the baby's head with gentle pressure. Do not pull on the head.
After the head is delivered, gently push down on the head and push a little to deliver the shoulders.
As one shoulder delivers, lift the head, delivering the other shoulder. The rest of the baby will follow quickly.
Wrap the baby in a clean blanket or clean towels. Clean newspapers can be used if nothing else is available.
Use a clean cloth or tissue to remove mucus from the baby's mouth.
Do not pull on the umbilical cord to deliver the placenta—it is not necessary.
If the placenta delivers on its own, wrap it in a towel or clean newspapers and save it.
Tie string or a shoelace around a section of the cord. You don't need to cut the cord.
Keep the placenta at the level of the baby or above the baby.
Keep mother and baby warm until you can get them to the hospital or medical help arrives.
Labor and Delivery Articles:
Water Breaking | Inducing Labor | Childbirth-Education Classes | Premature Labor | What Should I Bring to the Hospital? | Labor | Tests During Labor | Dealing with Pain in Childbirth | Cesarean Delivery | Will I Need an Episiotomy? | Baby's Birth Position | Delivery of Your Baby | After Your Baby Is Born | If Your Baby Is Late | Emergency Childbirth | Hospital Births: Losing the Fear Factor
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