I received this guest post from James. This got me to thinking back to when I was child in South Africa. At that time, it was not unusual for a woman to bear a child and go back to work the same day. Now I am now saying that this is right. But it does bring up the point that for most of human history childbirth has been a natural thing. No real medical care and hard on the women. But regardless we survived. Just remember most of us, just because we understand germ theory now more than most doctor from the 1700 and 1800 hundreds.
How to Help with Labor in an Emergency
In an emergency or SHTF situation you may not have access to complicated equipment and personnel to help you with the birth of a child. At best you may have a first aid kit and a few women around who have been through it themselves and know a bit about what to expect.
It’s important to know about the natural process of labor and birth, much like one studies first aid techniques, to ensure that you are prepared for this type of experience and can help in the best way possible in the event that you are tasked with helping a pregnant woman birth her child.
It’s important to keep in mind that birth is a natural process. When left alone it usually starts spontaneously and also tends to resolve itself one way or another in a matter of a few hours or days. It’s important to cue the mother to move and get into the best positions for labor and birth, and to offer soothing words and helpful assistance – like offering food and drink – if that is something she can keep down.
Here are some tips for ensuring that the natural birth you attend goes as smooth as possible:
1) Encourage the mother to be active and upright.
Studies show that women who stay active in labor have shorter and less painful births – lying down on your back it literally the worst thing you can do while in labor. Encourage the mother to move around and change her position frequently while in labor so that gravity can help speed the process along.
2) Encourage the mother to eat and drink.
Similar to what midwives and doulas already knew, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA)recently announced that it supports eating a light meal and drinking during labor (a marathon process that can take days to culminate in the birth of a baby). Eating and drinking in labor produces better outcomes for both mother and child. It’s important to consume high energy and efficient foods – like dates – which will help replenish energy and, in the case of dates, also shorten labor and reduce post-partum hemorrhaging.
3) Encourage the mother to get in the best position for optimal delivery.
Lying on the back is one of the most painful and unhelpful positions to be in for the birth. Additionally, it closes the pelvic outlet by up to 30% as the tailbone compresses inward – making it more painful for mother and baby, and more likely that the child will have a difficult time coming out. Imagine if a hat shrunk 30% smaller as you were trying to put it on – well babies have a small margin of error when it comes to the birth canal “opening” make sure it can stretch as wide as possible so baby doesn’t get stuck. Advise mom to get on her hands and knees lean over something, or squat – all of these are much better alternatives than lying on her back.
Off to a good start.
If you apply these principles the baby will most likely be out in no time at all – just get ready to catch! If you are interested in being prepared for additional rare birth situations and complications, like those experienced by Lori in The Walking Dead, season 3, I suggest reading over Emergency Childbirth: A Manual by Gregory White. While you won’t learn how to improvise a cesarean section, you may just save a life or two.
Two additional books you may want to consider getting are Where There is No Doctor and A Book for Midwives. You can download these or purchase them at their website, Hesperian health guides.