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How to Deliver a Baby in an Emergency

You can see the baby’s head but there’s no doctor in sight. First, calm down. Then follow these instructions.


  • : When delivering a baby, do not try to pull out either the child or the umbilical cord.
  • Step 1: Put down some sheets Put down some sheets, towels, clothing, or even an unread newspaper -- anything you can find that’s clean.
  • Step 2: Position the mom-to-be If you have assistance and she’s comfortable with it, help the mom-to-be stand with her knees slightly bent; that way, gravity will be on your side. Otherwise, have her lie on her back, then prop up her back with something soft.
  • Step 3: Wash up Scrub your hands, as well as your arms up to your elbows, with hand sanitizer or soap and warm water.
  • Step 4: Encourage mom to breathe Remind the mom-to-be to take deep breaths and to push.
  • Step 5: Instruct mom to stop pushing Once the baby’s head emerges, tell the mother to stop pushing.
  • Step 6: Support the baby’s head Gently cradle the baby’s head, then prepare to catch! After the shoulders slip out one at a time, the rest of the body will quickly follow.
  • Step 7: Leave the cord alone Leave the cord-cutting to a medical professional.
  • TIP: If the cord is wrapped tightly around the baby’s neck, preventing the infant from breathing, tie shoelaces, string, or some dental floss around the cord in 2 places, about 4-8 inches from the baby’s navel, to cut off the blood flow. Knot them tightly, then cut the cord in the middle with clean scissors. Once it's cut, gently unwrap the cord from the neck.
  • : Make sure you leave enough space between the ties and your cut so that the knots remain secure. Otherwise the baby could bleed to death.
  • Step 8: Get the baby breathing Clear the baby’s air passages by gently stroking downward on its nose and mouth. If the baby doesn’t seem to be breathing, gently slap the bottom of its feet. If that doesn’t work, blow a few gentle breaths into the baby’s mouth.
  • Step 9: Wrap the baby Wrap the baby in something clean and soft to keep it warm.
  • Step 10: Encourage mom to breast-feed Encourage the new mom to breast-feed immediately; this will help her body expel the placenta and stop her bleeding.
  • TIP: Let the placenta emerge on its own; don’t try to pull it out. Save it for the doctor, who will want to examine it.
  • Step 11: Get mom and baby to hospital Now get mom and baby to the hospital, or call 911.
  • FACT: According to the Centers for Disease Control, 30 percent of babies born in America are delivered by cesarean section.

You Will Need

  • Sheets
  • towels
  • or clothes
  • Hand sanitizer or soap and water
  • Shoelaces or string
  • Scissors

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