What would you do in case you see a pregnant woman who is in emergency childbirth? Most people would not know what to do in such a situation. After all, it’s not every day that you see someone give birth. Delivering a child in an unplanned situation can be very difficult. Although the stages of labor usually progress very slowly, giving medical staff or an ambulance to arrive, you cannot tell the exact amount of time it would take before a pregnant woman actually delivers the baby. The baby can come out very sluggishly or very quickly. In fact, there is very little that you can do to slow down or hasten the birth process.
If you have no idea about how to handle emergency childbirth, the most you can do is to call for emergency help, provide support for the mother, and anticipate care for the mother and baby after delivery. To learn the basic skills on how to help manage emergency childbirth you can attend St Mark James first aid and CPR training here.
How you can help
Make sure that the doctor or midwife has been informed. If the woman is in the early stages of labor, such as increased labor pains, feeling of pressure in the back or pelvic area or increased discharge of vaginal fluid, ask the mother if there are any possible arrangements for transport and confinement.
If there is severe bleeding or there are signs and symptoms of shock, call 911 or the local emergency services.
Assist the mother in a position of comfort – usually squatting or standing to assist the baby down the pelvic cavity. Ask the woman how you can help manage the pain such as rubbing her back, providing warm bath or offering sips of water. Encourage the mother to breathe out slowly to reduce muscle tension and pain. Mothers who have attended childbirthing classes will know how to use different breathing techniques in dealing with pain. If the emergency childbirth occurs at home, try to look for the pregnancy record which the medical staff will need.
If the labor process has advanced to the second stage and delivery becomes imminent:
- Assist the mother remove the clothes from her lower body.
- Make sure a doctor, midwife or ambulance is on the way. Usually, the ambulance or emergency dispatch operator will give you instructions over the phone on what to do.
- Make sure the environment is clean.
- Be ready to catch the baby with a clean piece of cloth. Prepare a blanket to keep the mother warm while giving birth.
- Assist the mother in a position of comfort.
- Provide support while the mother pushes the baby out.
- As the baby appears in the birth canal, carefully support the head and shoulders so that it does not fall. The expulsion can happen very quickly and naturally. Never apply pressure on the baby’s head to try to push it back in or pull it out. If there is a cord wrapped around the neck, make sure it does not strangulate the baby by gently pulling it over the head.
- Carefully lift the baby over the mother’s stomach or allow to breastfeed. No need to cut the cord. If the baby does not show any signs of movement or breathing, open the airway and check for obstruction. Be ready to provide infant CPR, if necessary.
- Keep the mother and baby warm while waiting for ambulance. Normally, the placenta, cord and other products of conception follow. Gently massage the lower abdominal to help minimize or stop bleeding.
It takes practice and advanced training to learn how to properly deal with emergency childbirth. You might want to consider attending advanced first aid courses to learn more about how to deal with special emergency situations.