Emergency Delivery How To

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.

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Veer

Call 911

EMTs are trained in childbirth, and the dispatcher can talk you through the basics.

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Stay Calm

Remember: Giving birth is natural. "When things go quickly, everything is usually fine," says Marjorie Greenfield, M.D., author of The Working Woman's Pregnancy Book and director of general obstetrics and gynecology at UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, in Cleveland.

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Peter Krumhardt

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.

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Brian Maranan Pineda

Push When it's Time

While any position is fine, it will be easier on your birth partner if you're lying down. Guide out the head, check for the cord, then just let the baby come.

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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.

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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.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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