Having a Baby in a Car? Don't Panic!

Sasha Brown-Worsham

It's amazing that babies born in cars even make the news anymore given how common it is.

On Tuesday, a woman in Ohio gave birth for the second time in a car. Apparently she has quick labors. So quick, in fact, that she's now two for two on front-seat babies. Wonder where conception took place ...

But I digress.

I used to think having a baby in a car was something only someone who wasn't listening to their body would encounter, but after my second baby came within two hours of realizing I was in labor (and 45 minutes after we got to the hospital), I realized how easy it would be. Had we been caught in traffic, my son's name might be Volvo.

So here are several tips (amended from Dr. Spock) to remember if you find yourself at 10 centimeters in the car:

  1. Pull over: Duh.
  2. Call 9-1-1: This may seem obvious, but if you panic, you might forget.
  3. Don't push, pant: To avoid tearing, try to pant instead of push at the height of the contractions. Push between them. As baby's head becomes visible (crowns), it's often possible to just let it ease on out. Support it as it makes its way out.
  4. After the baby's head is completely out, dry him off with a clean towel and wipe his nose and mouth to clear away any mucus and blood.
  5. Assuming that the rest of the body has not yet made its way out, the baby's head should then be guided gently downward toward the floor to deliver the top shoulder. Then, to deliver the baby's bottom shoulder, gently lift his body toward the ceiling.
  6. Once the shoulders are out, the rest comes quickly. The baby will be slippery.
  7. Rub the baby's back or slap his/her feet to encourage crying. Vigorous drying with a blanket or towel will also help.
  8. Once the baby is dry, place him or her on his mother's abdomen for warmth.
  9. Do not cut the cord!
  10. If possible, start to breastfeed to help expel the placenta.
  11. Once the placenta is expelled, which can take anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour, it should be placed next to the newborn. Again, do not cut the cord.
  12. Mom and baby should be kept together and warm until help arrives. 

Hopefully you will not give birth in the car, but if you do, these tips ought to help you stay calm, which is, after all, the most important tip of all.

Did you have a close call or give birth in a car?

Image via Sasha Brown-Worsham

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