I had a dream/nightmare a few nights ago that I was on a talk 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 labor.
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 thought others might be interested in brushing up on the steps for delivering a baby too, so here we are. I mean what if you go into labor 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’!
Here are the basic steps for delivering a baby:
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 every day squatting in a field somewhere. Childbirth, as terrifying as it can seem - especially if it's happening unexpectedly - is still natural. So try not to lose it 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 regardless of if 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, but get someone on the phone who can help you figure out what stage of labor mom is in, and what might be coming next. (Fun fact, the stages of labor don't end with the arrival of the baby.)
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 someone out of Grand Theft Auto. If you are the one in labor 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 with soap and warm water or use some hand sanitizer. 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 clean sheets or towels, however, if mom wants to squat, lie down, sit in a chair, or be propped up with pillows while howling to Fleetwood Mac, 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 thing is that mom is comfortable. You can clean/burn anything that gets dirty if you have to so don’t get all damn twitchy about amniotic fluid splashing on your leather car seats because, believe me, she would rather not be giving birth there either.
Oh, and if you're wondering, right around now is probably the beginning of the second stage of labor, when the cervix is fully dilated to 10cm, mom is having regular, strong contractions every 45-75 seconds, and she's feeling the urge to bear down and push.
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. Let gravity and contractions do their thing as the baby works their way from their cozy home in the uterus down through the birth canal. Your job is to simply cup the baby’s head with your clean hands and support it as it comes out. The baby will turn as it is delivered.
Step 6: Deal with the Head
After the head is out of the vagina, use a clean towel to wipe away fluid and membrane from the 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 of the Body
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 baby is out, try to dry them off as best as you can to get them really breathing (don’t worry, they are sturdier than they look). Then put the baby on mom (ideally on bare skin for some skin-to-skin contact) 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
Welcome to stage three of labor, the afterbirth! 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 (with more contractions), so don’t pull or push on anything to get it out. If it does come out, just wrap it in a newspaper or a towel – it will need to be examined by a medical professional to make sure there aren't any issues. 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.
Step 9: The Fourth Stage of Labor: Rest and Recover
Hopefully at this point help has arrived, either in the form of a midwife who will tend to you at home, or you've made it to a birthing center or hospital. In the fourth and final stage of labor, you'll need to rest and give your uterus time to contract and stop bleeding. Breastfeeding helps this, but again, at this point you'll hopefully be being cared for by someone in the know, and not hiding from zombies in a boarded up prison.
To sum up how to deliver a baby
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.
There. We’re all ready. Now we can all go on the talk show.
Do you have a story about delivering in an unconventional way?
Let us know in the comments below! (And if you just love birth stories, here are 9 Unique Birth Stories proving just how incredible, brave, and strong birthing people can be!)
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