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How do I Deliver a Baby at Home?

Despite planning otherwise, sometimes babies arrive a little too quickly! While the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists doesn’t endorse home births, you may find yourself going into labor before you even reach the hospital. Here’s how to prepare for delivering your baby at home.

Supplies you’ll need:

  • A cell phone
  • Another adult to help (if possible)
  • Clean towels
  • A chair to place at the end of the bed to act as a footrest
  • One or more pillows

1. Call 911 and unlock your front door. Get another adult to help if possible. Getting an ambulance on the way the first moment you realize your baby is coming ensures that trained professionals are on their way. Keep them on speakerphone throughout the process so you can get more guidance and update them if anything changes.

2. Get into position. Babies can be born with mom in any position that is comfortable for her:

If you prefer to stand, squat, or be on all fours, place a pillow or two underneath to cushion the baby during the delivery.

If you’re OK being on your back and can get on a bed, scoot to the end so your bottom is hanging off slightly. You can place a chair at the edge of the bed to act as a footrest between pushes and can put a pillow on the floor at the end of the bed as well, just in case.

You can try to place towels underneath to catch blood and amniotic fluid, but this might be a losing battle.

3. Get help coaching and push when ready. In general, it’s time to push if you can see the baby’s head. If you are trying not to push (if you are trying to wait for EMS to arrive, for example), pant through contractions, but realize that sometimes it’s impossible to stop pushing once a baby is about to deliver. Push with your contractions and rest in between.

4. The actual delivery. Once the baby’s entire head is out, do the following steps:

  • If there is a tight umbilical cord around the baby’s neck, use your fingers to loop it up and off the baby’s head. If it’s loose, though, and the baby is delivering fine, there’s no need to worry about it.
  • Place your hands on the baby’s head (not the neck, as you can press too hard and cause damage), one above and one below.
  • Apply gentle downward pressure as the mother pushes to help the top shoulder deliver.
  • Once that shoulder is out, continue to gently pull (with mom pushing), now in an upward direction so the bottom shoulder and arm can come out.
  • Once the head and both shoulders are out, have the mom keep pushing until the baby is delivered (this is usually the easiest part).

5. Make sure the baby is breathing and warm. The best place for a baby is skin-to-skin on mom’s chest. This helps stabilize the baby’s breathing and heart rate.

If the cord is long enough, place the baby on the mom’s chest or abdomen. If she is unable to hold the baby, it’s also OK to keep him or her on a pillow or towel on the floor.

Dry baby off with a towel, then wrap him in a new dry towel (if skin-to-skin, place this over mom and baby with nothing between the baby and mom’s skin).

If the baby is not spontaneously crying, flick the bottom of his feet or rub his spine up and down to simulate a cry.

6. Don’t cut the cord, and leave the placenta alone. There is no danger in leaving the baby attached to the umbilical cord. Once the ambulance staff arrives, they have sterile tools to cut the cord. Don’t pull on the cord to get the placenta out — it’s OK to stay in, and may deliver on its own anyway (if it does, place it in a bowl or wrap it in a towel).

7. Encourage the baby to latch on and breastfeed. This actually can help the uterus contract, which keeps the mom from losing too much blood and also helps the placenta to deliver. And the closeness between mom and baby helps the baby transition while providing mom a wonderful distraction from all the chaos!

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