Emergency Home Birthing

Disclaimer The information you find on this page or in this site is by no means a substitute for proper medical attention. Celesta Rannisi, LM, CPM, LCS, CT, Celebration of Birth and Life and SanDiegoHomeBirth.com hold no legal obligation, guarantees nor liability to those who read it. All information given herein is intended as educational in nature.

Emergency Home BirthingWhat happens if it looks like my baby will arrive before I get to the hospital?? Emergency home deliveries are extremely unusual, especially with first babies. But they do occur once in a blue moon. Occasionally a woman who has had no labor symptoms, or only intermittent contractions, will suddenly feel the telltale overwhelming urge to push, signaling the imminent arrival of her baby.  

If your first labor was unusually speedy, you'll want to be especially attuned to signs of labor for your second--and prepared and have a plan for that. But if it feels like the baby is not going to wait and you find yourself in an emergency situation with sudden contractions coming strong and fast or an instant overwhelming urge to push the following set of guidelines could help make the delivery a safe one.

What should I do first?

  1. Call 911 and ask the dispatcher to send an emergency medical squad.
  2. If your husband or partner is not immediately available, call a friend or neighbor.
  3. Then call your physician or midwife. Your healthcare provider should remain on the phone to guide you until help arrives.
  4. Unlock your door so the emergency medical crew, your neighbor, or whomever you contacted can come in (you may not be in a position to get to the door later).
  5. Grab a towel, sheet, or blanket so you can dry the baby immediately after birth. If you remain alone and are unable to do so, you can use your clothes instead.
  6. If you feel the overwhelming urge to push, try to use your breathing techniques And don't forget to take off under garments.

If my delaying tactics don't work . . . ?  Should the baby arrive before the midwife or EMT (Emergency Medical Team), do your best to guide him out as gently as possible.

The Umbilical Cord: If the umbilical cord is around the baby's neck, either ease it over his head slowly or loosen it enough to form a loop so that the rest of his body can slip through. When he's fully out, don't pull the cord. Wait until you deliver the placenta , which you will shortly. 

DO NOT try to tie off or cut the cord. Leave it attached to your baby until help arrives. While you're waiting for medical help, the most important things you can do...

  1. Dry your baby immediately. Then rest him on your tummy, and warm him with your body heat.
  2. Cover yourself and your baby with a dry blanket.
  3. Ease out any mucus or amniotic fluid from his little nostrils by gently running your fingers down the side of his nose.
  4. If your baby doesn't cry spontaneously at birth, try to stimulate him by rubbing his back or flicking the heels of his feet.
  5. Try letting your baby nurse if he wants to. Besides offering him comfort and security--and giving you a chance to see him close up--his sucking will tell your body to release oxytocin, the hormone that stimulates the delivery of the placenta and the contraction of your uterus. 
For more information 
See the American College of Nurse-Midwives' Guide to Emergency Preparedness for Childbirth.
Chances are both you and your baby will be just fine. And you'll have a great birth story: A father (and now grandfather) we know still tells with delight the tale of his second daughter's arrival more than 30 years ago--with only him to assist his wife's champion pushing.