Unplanned Home Births Aren't as Scary as They Look on TV


As far as the mainstream media is concerned, unplanned births are big, scary emergencies. Very often on TV we see people doing ridiculous things at all costs just to get a laboring mom to the hospital or emergency teams to her. Why? Because most women aren't prepared whatsoever to birth without professionals. But an unplanned home birth doesn't have to be such a big, scary emergency. In fact, according to Marye Audet, who wrote the online guide, "How to Deliver a Baby at Home (Emergency Situation)," it can have happy results.

At first, I was hesitant to click on the guide ... was this going to be like an episode of I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant where they all run around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to pull out the baby, tying off the umbilical cord the second they can with a gross shoelace? Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was nothing of the sort. Audet's disclaimer, of course, is that the guide is not meant as medical advice; still, I think the guide gives good tips for what to do in case of an unexpected homebirth.

Audet's guide includes 20 steps written for moms who not only are faced with an unplanned home birth, but do not want to birth unassisted, are scared, and don't feel prepared. (Consider this the average mom who had no intention of going at this without a doctor or midwife, and probably didn't look into how to do it either.) Among them:

  • Everyone be calm. Mom will feed off of the fear of others and get scared herself. Deep breaths, people. Remember that when she hits transition, this is the point where many moms go, "I CAN'T DO THIS!" and freak out. That's normal!
  • Try to get mom into a squatting or all-fours position. This not only helps relieve pressure and helps keep the baby turned the right way, but opens up the birth canal most to aid in a speedy and less painful delivery.
  • DO NOT TRY TO PULL THE BABY OUT AT ANY TIME. Yes, she wrote that in caps, because it's necessary information. Keep your mitts to yourself until that baby slides out on their own into your hands or Mom's. No pulling, ever.
  • Do not cut the cord. Remember that the cord around the neck is common and normal. If you can very gently slip it off, feel free, but don't pull, yank, or try to force it, and don't tie or clamp it for awhile. It's one of the least important things to worry about right now.
  • Once baby is out, move her to Mom's bare chest with a blanket over both of them, not between. Mom's body is the best warmer for the baby.
  • Try to get baby to nurse ASAP. This helps contract the uterus, which then helps get the placenta out easier and can help prevent postpartum bleeding.
  • NEVER pull the placenta. You can cause a very dire situation, including life threatening bleeding, for the mom.

She's got more tips, including how to deal with some potential problems and ways to handle them, too, and of course another disclaimer about seeking a doctor's help and all that good stuff -- which, of course, applies to this post, too.

Just remember you're not on TV. An unexpected home birth has the potential to be a nice, pleasant experience. We don't have to yank baby away from Mom, cut the cord right away, wrap baby up, while waiting, terrified, for the EMTs. Be optimistic. You're meeting your BABY!

Did you have an "emergency" home birth? Do you know how to handle one? Does your significant other?


Image via amcdawes/Flickr

3rd trimester, delivery, labor & delivery, homebirth


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Kritika Kritika

Here we go...

SandM... SandMsMama

I actually plan to have an unassisted home birth with my next ON PURPOSE! I may have a midwife there to check my bp and monitor baby occasionaly, depending on how my husband feels about it. I feel like birth is something we are ment to do alone with the man who helped make the baby & all that medical crap is unnecessary

FitVe... FitVeggieChick

We had our 3rd baby at the hospital unplanned lol, the doc said I wasn't in labor and missed the whole thing so if that can happen at a hospital 43 minutes after arriving I can totally see it happening at home. Every mom to be should be prepared! I'm pregnant again and I sure will be.

ms_mo... ms_morgan

I just forwarded this to my husband :) I plan on delivering in a hospital, but it never hurts to be prepared!

Lynette Lynette

I had a planned homebirth w/ a midwife for my 3rd child.  It was so calm.  But back when I had my first child yep I probably would have freaked out, just because I wouldn't have been prepared( I didn't know anyone had homebirths then).  Back then the only things I knew about birth was from What to Expect When Expecting, hospital lamaze class & shows like baby story.  So I thought a hospital was important.  But after having had a homebirth I realise how little the midwife or doc really does.  This would be great info for any pregnant woman.  If an unexpected unplanned birth happens stay calm, everything is going to be okay.  My grandma actually had an unexpected homebirth w/ my father.  Her stomach was feeling off, she thought she was sick, so went went and laid down in her room.  15minutes latter my father was born still in the amniotic sac, it didn't break in the birth, so she popped it after!  (of course I didn't know this story till I had my planned homebirth).

jpfsmom jpfsmom

No THANK GOD, no desire to have to clean up. (I've heard horror stories from my midwife friends) Hospital suited me just fine

hamem... hamemedowns

My second was an unassisted homebirth. Easy.

Lisa Moore

I've never had the experience, I've had to be induced each time. If i waited to go into labor naturally I'm scared I would be pregnant for a year! If did get lucky enough to go at it the old fashioned way I would be excited, probably scared too but not crazy-like. The most old school thing I have been able to do is keep the sex of my baby a surprise to myself and everyone else and I am sooo excited to find out at birth what I'm having.

elfis... elfishpirat

We're planning a homebirth with a midwife for this baby, and I am completely relaxed and peaceful. My body knows exactly what to do :)

Momma... MommaGreenhalge

Funny, those are all things that should be happening no matter where someone is giving birth!  Also an observation, every time you hear about something like that happening on the news, the story ends with, "Thankfully, Mom and baby were just fine."  I have actually never heard a story of an unexpected homebirth where something went wrong.  They've always turned out just fine.

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