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