No, you don’t have to boil water, says Katrina Kilroy, a midwife and the president of the Association of Ontario Midwives.
But Ms. Kilroy says she advises her clients of the following tips if they’re having their second child or have a history of fast births.
- Stay calm. “That’s much easier said than done,” she admits.
- Call your midwife or hospital birth triage line. They may be able to talk you through the whole birth, if need be.
- If it’s very urgent, call 911. Be aware that you’ll have to stay on the line with the dispatcher until paramedics arrive. So consider having two phones ready – one for dispatch and one for a midwife or nurse.
- If the baby is coming, accept it. Don’t jump into the car to race to the hospital. “Don’t have it in the elevator or the car or the lobby or the sidewalk.”
- For dads, partners or whomever is attending: Wash your hands and have clean towels and blankets handy. But don’t fret too much about hygiene.
- The most important way to avoid tearing is to deliver the head slowly. “Get the mom to breathe the baby out. You have a strong urge to push when you have a precipitous labour. When the head is coming, just breathe and let the head come slowly.”
- Be ready to catch the baby – they are very slippery. If the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck, unwind it. “Thirty per cent of babies have the cord around the neck. Don’t be alarmed. It’s very normal.”
- If the baby is pink and crying, you’ve done it. In the rare cases that baby’s not breathing on its own yet, stimulate its back with a dry blanket. In rare cases, the baby might need artificial resuscitation.
- Wipe off the newborn and place him or her on mom’s stomach or chest. Don’t stretch the umbilical cord, though. (It’s still attached to the placenta, which you don’t want to tug at.)
- Cover the baby in a blanket.
- You don’t need to do anything with the cord. Don’t tie it, clamp it or cut it until a paramedic or midwife comes.
- If you’re worried about mom bleeding (which is normal) make an extra effort to start breastfeeding. The oxytocin released is known to help the uterus contract and stop bleeding.
- If the placenta comes out, it’s no big deal. Catch it in a cloth and keep it near the baby.