Emergency Childbirth

N.B. This article is taken from Wikibooks: First Aid and is subject to the same medical disclaimer.

Emergency childbirth - it's better to be prepared... The most important principle of emergency childbirth is to recognise that women have been giving birth for tens of thousands of years in the total absence of any medical support whatsoever. With this in mind it should be obvious that under normal conditions, very little intervention should be necessary. The primary role of all who are assisting the mother should be to make her as comfortable as possible.

The guideline 'first do no harm' is imperative for emergency childbirth.


  • Do contact the emergency services or the mother's doctor for assistance, especially if the timing of the birth is unexpected.
  • Do comfort and reassure the expectant mother.
  • Do have her position herself in the most comfortable position possible. This could be lying down, squatting, kneeling on all fours, etc.
  • Do have plenty of absorbant materials (cloths, towels, or newspaper) available as needed.
  • Do attempt to provide privacy. In a crowd, bystanders can be asked to stand in a circle with their backs to the scene to create an artificial privacy area.
  • Do use protective precautions including gown and face mask (when available).
The primary role...should be to make her as comfortable as possible.


  • Do not put anything into the vagina or womb.
  • Do not pull on the cord or the baby.
  • Do not have the mum-to-be cross her legs to try to delay labour.
Other related resources: