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What do I do if the baby comes before the midwife?!

It is a common fear of fathers-to-be that they may not get to the hospital in time, or get the midwife out to them in time, and that they will have to act as midwife to their own partner!

To reassure you, you are far more likely to arrive at the hospital/call the midwife out in loads of time than have an unexpected home birth, although without doubt it does happen occasionally.

So just for your reassurance, if you find yourself in this situation, here are the steps to follow (and most of these are common sense anyway you will see!)

  • If you believe that your Baby’s arrival is imminent and especially if your partner thinks/says she is pushing), this is not the time to start a car journey.  It’s warmer and safer to give birth unplanned at home than at the side of the motorway! Added to this, it is certainly easier for a midwife or medical support to find you.
  • Call 999. Although having a baby is not a medical emergency, having some support come out to you is important! Tell them clearly that you are at home with no medical support.
  • They will ask you what is happening and talk you through what you need to do (if anything) while the paramedics are on their way. They will stay on the phone the whole time to offer you support and advice if needed.
  • Encourage your partner to be in any position she feels comfortable in. All fours or kneeling up are good positions for birthing.
  • Just reassure her. Tell her to trust her body and to allow it to do whatever it is doing. Stay with her and tell her you are there.
  • Make sure your front door is unlocked so assistance can come straight in.
  • If you see the baby’s head emerging, just get ready to catch the baby as the shoulders are birthed. Don’t touch or tug the baby while it is emerging. If you can see a loop of cord around the baby’s neck (very common, and not usually an issue) you can gently unloop it, but don’t pull on the cord.
  • When you have caught your baby, pass them to your partner so she can put them on her chest – this keeps Baby warm but also helps support their vital systems. Cover them with a towel (or whatever you have to hand) to keep them both warm.
  • Leave baby attached to the cord, don’t try to clamp or cut it. They will still be receiving oxygen via blood from the cord and birthing the placenta with the cord attached is completely normal.
  • If your partner starts birthing the placenta and you are still without medical support, just reassure her and let her body do the work. Make sure the 999 operator knows what is happening so they can advise the professionals on their way to meet you.
  • Then just wait for someone to come to congratulate you! They will check over your partner and baby to make sure all is ok and you will have a fantastic story to tell for the rest of your lives! 

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