Emergency Labor: How to Deal With Birth Before Arrival

emergency labor

Women often express a fear of giving birth, and that is totally normal! Most moms will do fine during labor, but what if the baby arrives earlier than expected. If you’ve ever watched a TV show or a movie where women go into labor before they can get to the hospital, then you probably know the drill. But, in reality, things go a little bit differently. As parents, we need to be prepared for our kids. Read on to know how to deal with emergency labor.

The Chances of Emergency Labor

Emergency Labor

In a study, we found that the women more likely to deliver early are women of low socioeconomic status, those living in rural areas, and who live in areas with high rates of planned home birth. This may be due to poor levels of health services or having long distances to get to the hospital. Another factor to consider though is some of these births could be free-birth which is giving birth at home intentionally without a midwife or doctor. On top of that, in most cases, babies born before arrival are more likely to be premature.

What To Do When Baby is Born Before You Get to Hospital

Emergency Labor

Assess the Situation

You need to know if your baby’s coming quickly and there is not enough time to get to the hospital. While every woman’s labor is different if you’re having strong, long, and frequent contractions. It generally occurs less than 5 minutes apart. Or, if your water has broken and you have a strong urge to push. All of that is a sign that delivery is imminent. Also, babies tend to take longer than subsequent ones. So, if you’re having your second or third child, then you might have enough time. No worry, at that time, you will know what option is best to choose.

Call for Help

This sounds obvious, but you need to know and guide who is helping you in this situation. Make sure they call 911 immediately and you will need someone to talk you through the birth until the ambulance arrives. Also, most dispatchers are trained on how to talk you through the basic steps of home birth, so if possible, put them on speaker. 

Stay Calm and Know This is Natural

Try your best to keep calm and remember your body knows how to do this! For starters, if you’re worried about something that can go wrong, understand that babies who arrive quickly typically don’t encounter any problems since they’re in the ideal position for this. Also, keep in mind that home births are surprisingly common. In rural areas and even developed countries like the Netherlands, where about 13 percent of babies are born at home.

Make Yourself as Comfortable as Possible

Get down low and put a towel under you so your baby has a soft landing. The best position is whatever is most comfortable. However, if you’re alone and need to lie down, try to prop yourself up with a bunch of pillows. In this position, you can also easily reach down with both hands and to help when your baby is out. On the other hand, if someone’s around to help you most of the advice is the same. And, try to resist the urge to push until you can’t.

What to Do When the Baby’s Out

Congratulations! As soon as your baby is born, put the little one straight onto your chest, and rub dry with a towel. The skin-to-skin contact will keep your baby warm and calm. Get whoever is there to put a second warm dry towel over your baby and remove the damp one. In most cases, babies will start to breathe on their own without any intervention and only 1 percent require advanced methods of resuscitation or CPR.

Don’t Cut or Tie the Umbilical Cord

Cutting the cord yourself in this situation is very difficult. Without any experience or professional around, doing so could expose your baby to infection. Plus, at the time of birth, about 30 percent of your baby’s blood is still in the placenta, which can give from 2-5 minutes of oxygen. So, with the cord attached, wrap the placenta in a clean towel elevated above the level of the baby, if possible, and wait for the EMTs. Try to stay calm and maintain skin-to-skin contact with your baby, as help will arrive soon!

The Bottom Line

A liquid called amniotic fluid will come out as the baby is born. Be prepared because there will also be some blood loss and up to a certain point this is a normal part of the process. And, the most important thing is not to panic! Giving birth is a normal process and you will do just fine. It’s hard for pregnant moms to always get the timing just right when making the decision to go to the hospital or stay for a home birth.

It is really important that you don’t worry too much about this happening as the chances are small, and even if it does happen it usually turns out fine. Plus, once the shock wears off, you will have an entertaining birth story! If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments.