Labor generally takes a few hours (and often longer than that) -- enough time for the vast majority of women to get to a hospital or a birthing center. But in case you don't make it, you should know the drill.
Everything in this slideshow
EMTs are trained in childbirth, and the dispatcher can talk you through the basics.
Grab Clean Blankets, Towels, or Sheets
You'll need at least one to catch the baby and wipe away the blood and one to keep you and your newborn warm.
Forget About the Cord
Wait for trained professionals -- with sterilized instruments -- to do the clamping and cutting. If you deliver the placenta, place it in a bowl or a plastic bag, and take it to the hospital. That way doctors can check that there's none remaining inside you.
Check the ABCs (airway, breathing, and circulation)
If your baby isn't crying, put your hand near his nose to see whether he's breathing, and check for a pulse by putting your hand on his chest. If any of these signs are negative, try rubbing your newborn's back or flicking his feet with your finger. "These will often get a newborn crying," says Dr. Greenfield.
Originally published in the September 2011 issue of Parents magazine.
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