A Guide to Handling Childbirth in a Car

Nurse attending a newborn baby

Nobody wants to think about childbirth in a car, but this emergency situation can happen. Do you know what to do if someone goes into labor and an emergency delivery must be done?

Reasons for a Quick Labor and Delivery

The ideal labor gives a woman plenty of signs that childbirth is approaching. Maybe labor pains start out slowly and regularly and gradually increase, or maybe a woman's water breaks. Occasionally, however, labor just doesn't go according to plan and an emergency situation develops quickly. Quick labor and delivery may occur for the following reasons:

  • Quick Prior Births-In some cases, women who have already experienced a quick labor and delivery during prior pregnancies may be at risk again.
  • Prior Premature Labors-Those women who may have experienced premature labor in the past could also be at risk.
  • Physical Condition-In some cases, an injury or illness has caused a woman to experience a quick delivery, including childbirth in a car.
  • Other Children-Women who have already experienced several other births may be more inclined to have a quick labor and delivery.

Signs of a Quick Labor and Delivery

How do you know if a labor and delivery is about to turn into an emergency situation, such as childbirth in a car? A woman who experiences some or all of the following conditions may be in danger of having an emergency delivery.

  • Probably one of the most common symptoms is a very strong urge to push. The urge may be so strong that the woman cannot keep from pushing.
  • Similar to the urge to push is the urge to have a bowel movement, which signifies pressure from the baby's head on the rectum.
  • Contractions that are coming two minutes or less apart at a regular pace may also indicate that delivery is near.
  • Vagina bulges with each contraction.

Childbirth in a Car

What can you do if someone is about to experience childbirth in a car? It is important to remain as calm as possible, both for your sake and for the sake of the woman in labor. Call 911 and the mother's obstetrician immediately. The 911 operator should walk you through the delivery process. If you cannot get in touch in with any emergency personnel, do the following:

  1. Clean and sterilize your hands if possible.
  2. Ask the woman about any health issues that might be of concern during the delivery, such as the baby's position at her last checkup, the possibility of multiple births, etc.
  3. Place the mother in the backseat of the vehicle, preferably on a clean blanket, sheet, towel, newspaper, etc. If you have a pillow, blanket, jacket, etc., place it under head.
  4. If the woman is experiencing the urge to push, have her pant in a rhythmic manner. If someone is assisting you, have them pant with her. She may be experiencing the urge to push before the baby is crowning and panting may help her to either refrain from pushing or enable her to push only lightly.
  5. Once the contractions are strong and the baby is beginning to crown (top of the head is showing), have the woman push with the contractions.
  6. As the baby's head begins to emerge, support the head but do not pull on it. Hold the head in a slightly downward position as the woman continues to push.
  7. If you notice the umbilical cord around the baby's neck, gently move it free from the neck.
  8. As the baby continues to move through the birth canal, help his or her shoulders ease out one shoulder at a time. Once the head and shoulders are out, the rest of the baby should follow easily.
  9. You'll need to wipe the baby's face and check his nose and mouth for any obstructions.
  10. Do not cut the umbilical cord and do not try to deliver the placenta. If the placenta delivers anyway, lay it beside the mother above the level of the baby's head. Do not cut the cord!
  11. Wrap the baby in a shirt, blanket, etc., and lay him on his mother's stomach and chest.
  12. If an ambulance is en-route to the delivery site, keep mother and baby as comfortable as possible. Otherwise, proceed to the nearest hospital.
A Guide to Handling Childbirth in a Car