I had a dream/nightmare a few nights ago that I was on the Ellen DeGeneres show that had an entire audience of pregnant women. I was so excited to talk about pregnancy and my asshattery when a woman went into labour.
Of course no one in the audience knew anything about delivering a baby – no doctors, no midwives, no L&D nurses, nothing – so everyone just assumed I could do it and I got that same pant-shitting feeling when I’m in my underwear at high school and there is a math exam for a course I didn’t know I was enrolled in.
Anyway, I decided I better look this little tidbit up, and wondered if maybe you and your loved ones could use this too. I mean what if you go into labour in the middle of nowhere, or when the elevator is out, or when the zombie apocalypse hits!? You can’t get to a damn hospital when the zombie apocalypse hits! That’s where the zombies will go first!
So grab a pen and let’s get ‘edumacated’!
Step 1: Don’t Freak Out.
I know, easy for me to say with a zombie apocalypse happening, but it really is true that women do this everyday squatting in a field somewhere. So try not to go cray cray even if you are alone.
Step 2: Call for Help
Ideally call 911. This isn’t because birth is an emergency, this is because you need to talk to someone that isn’t going to scare the shit out of you or start crying. Sometimes the scariest part of doing something, is doing it alone, so get on the horn and get someone in your corner whether you’re delivering someone’s baby, or delivering your own. If you think you can get a hold of your midwife or doctor instead, go for it.
Step 3: Unlock the Front Door or Pull the Car Over
Unlock your front door so help can get in without you having to leave the situation. As for a car, there is kind of a moment where you realize this is happening, so there’s no point in barreling down the highway and flying through red lights. More than likely mom is going to have to take her seatbelt off and that is not when you want to be driving like something out of Grand Theft Auto. If you are the one in labour and behind the wheel, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a person exiting your body is distracting and you’d be best to pull over.
Step 4: Get Prepared and Take Mom’s Lead
If you have time, wash your hands. It seems like a no brainer but I can see how that could easily be forgotten in the thick of things. Feel free to throw the shower curtain on the bed and cover it with towels, however, if mom wants to squat, lie down, sit in a chair, let her do it. If she doesn’t care, the best spot is probably is floor because you can’t fall off the floor if you’re a slippery baby.
The most important things is that mom is comfortable. You can clean/burn anything that gets dirty if you have to so don’t get all damn twitchy if she’s delivering on your leather car seats, because believe me she would rather not be giving birth there either.
Step 5: Get Ready to Catch
You are just catching so when you see the head starting to emerge, don’t be pulling anything. Slow and steady is what you’re going for here. Simply cup the baby’s head with your hands and support it as it comes out. The baby will turn as it is delivered.
Step 6: Deal with the Head
Use a clean towel to wipe away fluid and membrane from baby’s airway by stroking downwards on the nose and mouth.
If the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck, don’t worry about it. If the cord is tight just keep the baby’s head close to the mother’s body and untangle the baby as it emerges. Don’t worry about cutting the cord either.
Step 7: Catch the Rest
Next the baby’s shoulders will come (again, don’t pull), then the body. This will be pretty fast so don’t grab your phone for a “look-at-me-delivering-a-baby” shot because you will just get a shot of you dropping a newborn.
Babies are really slippery, so have a towel/coat/t-shirt/ to catch the baby. There will most likely be fluid and blood that comes with it too – that’s normal so don’t worry.
Once the weeble is out, try to dry them off as best as you can (don’t worry, they are sturdier than they look) to get them really breathing, then put the baby on mom (ideally skin-to-skin) and keep them both warm with dry towels or blankets.
Don’t slap the baby on the bum. I don’t know where that came from but nobody does it so don’t.
Step 8: Placenta
Your job is most likely done at this point, and you can take your “I-just-delivered-a-baby-shot”, but if help still hasn’t arrived, you may need to deal with the placenta. The placenta is usually delivered 10-15 minutes after the baby so don’t pull or push on anything to get it out. If it does come out, just wrap it in newspaper or a towel. Even though you can technically cut the cord now, it’s best to leave it intact for a pro because everything you need to cut it should be sterile.
If no help is coming because the zombies ate them, you can wait until the cord has gone white and hard (long after it has stopped pulsating – we’re talking hours here) and cut it with a sterilized knife or scissors approximately four inches away from the baby. But again, don’t do this unless you really, really have to.
When it all comes down to it, there’s only really one step to delivering a baby, just let nature do what it’s supposed to do and don’t try to speed it up, make it stop, or pull it along. Above all don’t panic. Most births are completely normal and don’t need any kind of intervention so try not to fiddle or recreate a Grey’s Anatomy episode.
I also found a wonderful resource from American College of Nurse-Midwives that goes into more detail if you’re interested. You can download the pdf here.
There. We’re all ready. Now we can all go on the Ellen show.