The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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If you’re at home and realize you can’t get to the hospital in time, call your local fire department or 911. If you’re alone, call a neighbor to come over immediately. And don’t forget to unlock the front door. “A common mistake is leaving the door locked,” McCartney says. “The woman is inside having the baby, and the rescue squad is outside pounding on the door.”
Lie on a bed or carpeted floor, preferably with your bottom on a clean sheet or towel that you’ve placed over a shower curtain. If you’re alone, position yourself in such a way that the baby will emerge safely onto a flat surface. Once the baby comes out, dry her with a sheet or towel; the rubbing helps stimulate her first breaths. Then put her on your naked belly for warmth as you wait for the paramedics to arrive.
There is no rush to cut the umbilical cord, but it’s important to keep the baby close so the cord won’t be pulled tight. When the cord stops throbbing (usually after 10 minutes or so) and if help hasn’t arrived, tightly double-knot a clean shoelace (sterilized in boiling water, if possible) around the cord 3 inches from the baby. Double-knot another shoelace 2 inches up the cord from the first knot (5 inches from the baby) and cut the tough, rubbery cord between the laces with sharp, sterilized scissors. The placenta should deliver itself within about 20 minutes.
The good news about emergency births is that the newborns usually are fine because they haven’t been stressed by hours of contractions. “Fast labors tend to be very easy for the baby,” McCartney says.
Hickey acknowledges the delivery wasn’t hard on her, either. As for her sister? Hickey laughs and says, “She swears she’ll never have a baby.”
Some babies make their debuts in the strangest places.
Here are a few, according to news reports:
>> In the elevator of a high-rise in New Jersey
>> During a wedding celebration at a restaurant in Minnesota
>> Next to the cash registers at a Wal-Mart in Georgia
>> Behind the teacher’s desk in a classroom in Texas
>> In a Starbucks bathroom in Illinois
>> In a Kwik Stop parking lot in California
>> On board a tour bus in Florida