Home births are the preferred choice for lots of women, but what happens when you’re forced into an emergency home birth and what should you do?
It’s not incredibly common, but some women are put in a situation where they can’t make it to the hospital in time to give birth and have to take the matter into their own hands.
Knowing what to do in case you end up in an emergency home birth situation is important for the health of your future child and yourself. It might also avoid you having to put forth a birth injury claim against the professionals who may have been responsible for this surprise birth.
In this post, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about emergency home births. This way, you’ll be prepared in case you have one. But, if you’re reading this blog because you’re going through one right now and need help, skip to the ‘What should you do…’ section.
How Likely Are Unplanned Homebirths?
Home birthing emergencies aren’t nearly as common as they appear given their prevalence in movies and TV Shows. Only around one baby in every 200 are born suddenly.
These types of births are less likely if you’re having your first child, usually only occurring when you’ve already had a baby or have had a previous fast pushing stage during your pregnancy.
This doesn’t mean emergency home births can’t happen to women having their first child. What’s more, no matter how uncommon they are, you still need to know how to deal with them in case you’re faced with one.
What Should You Do in the Event of an Emergency Homebirth?
Now that we have an idea of how likely you are to have an unplanned home birth, it’s time to tell you what you should do in case you have to go through one.
1. Is it too late to go to a hospital?
Ideally, you’d have your baby in a hospital surrounded by medical professionals. So, it’s important to make sure you absolutely can’t make this happen before you decide to go through with an emergency home birth. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this your first baby? If so, they usually take longer than a second or third child, so you’ll likely have more time to get to the hospital
- Are you having strong, long, frequent contractions (less than 5 minutes apart)? If so, you might have to settle in for a home birth
- Has your water broken and are you experiencing a strong urge to push? This is also a sign that you won’t be able to make it to the hospital in time
2. Call 999
Once you’ve confirmed that you should stay home to give birth, you should call 999 to get the paramedics en-route to your house ASAP.
3. Make sure you have someone with you
If you’re alone for any reason, call a family member, neighbour or friend to come to your side immediately. Unlock your door so whoever you call can get in easily and make sure whoever agrees to help you gets there as soon as possible.
4. Stay calm
In the moment, the thought of going through an emergency home birth can be terrifying, but you should do your best to stay calm. Babies were born in all sorts of places before we localised them to the hospital and your body knows what it’s doing.
If you’re worried that the baby will come out feet first, don’t be. Babies who arrive early typically come out headfirst because they’re already in the right position and are ready to go, that’s why they’re coming out so early.
5. Get clean and comfortable
Make sure to wash your hands and vaginal area with soap before your home birth. Also, have a bucket of warm water and clean towels at the ready to wipe the baby down and keep it warm when it’s born.
To avoid making a mess, lots of women think lying in the tub is a good idea but it’s not going to be comfortable or accessible to the paramedics when they show up. Instead, try laying down towels or a waterproof covering (e.g. a shower curtain) on your bed or on the floor.
In terms of the best position to be in:
- If you’re on your own, prop your back up with pillows so you can reach down and ease the baby out when it’s time.
- If you’re with someone, sitting on the edge of a bed with your feet propped up on a chair will help them deliver the baby.
- Any position you feel comfortable in (on all fours, squatting, etc.).
6. Resist the urge to push until you have to
Bearing down on the baby during an emergency home birth could risk the baby coming out too quickly and damaging you. Panting can help you relieve internal pressure, but if your baby starts to arrive anyway, ease them out as gently as possible.
Once your baby’s head is visible, gently press your hands against in front to stop the head popping out too quickly. If there’s an umbilical cord around your baby’s neck, hook your finger under it and gently lift it over the baby’s head.
Your next push should bring the shoulders and the rest will follow.
7. Take care of the baby
And that’s it, your baby has been delivered! However, your work isn’t done yet as you need to clean them off, wrap them in a towel and put them to your chest.
To drain the amniotic fluid from the baby’s face, wipe their nose and mouth, run your fingers from the corner of their eyes down to their nostrils, and rub the back of their ribs the same way you’d wash your hair.
Once the baby is breathing you can breastfeed them for the first time (if they latch) and the placenta should expel itself after a few additional contractions. Wait until the paramedics show up before you cut the umbilical cord so they can do it in a sterilised fashion.
Do Emergency Home Births Appear Easier Than They Are?
In this post, we’ve managed to cover how common emergency home births are, and what you should do if you find yourself in that situation.
Giving birth outside of hospitals is easier than it seems if you’re a low-risk mother, and it’s within your power to do so if you know how to go about it. That said, it’s not advised to do so unexpectedly, without medical professionals present.
That said, hopefully you now know how to go through a home birth if you’re in an emergency situation, so good luck if you ever go through one.