Supplies To Keep On Hand

If you think you could have a quick labor, learn some tips from Childbirth Educator Kira Smith (ICCE) to prepare for an emergency delivery at home.
Kira Smith , ICCE

Your question
My last labor was very fast. I am worried I may not make it to the hospital in time! What sort of emergency supplies should I have on hand -- just in case? - Christine in Tampa, Florida

The expert answers
First, make your health care provider aware of your concerns when you discuss when you should come to the hospital. Pay attention to your body's signals and call your provider immediately when any of the following occur:
  • Your water breaks
  • Frequent, easy contractions starting to increase in strength and/or frequency
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Hard contractions, no matter how infrequent or long in duration
  • Severe headaches and/or vomiting

If you find that you are having low backache that comes and goes or menstrual-type cramps, be aware that this might be labor and check in with your provider. Also be alert for loose bowels, a "feeling" that the time is near, loss of your mucus plug and/or heavy, thick mucus vaginally, bloody show (blood tinged mucus) and any contractions that feel different from Braxton Hicks.

If it comes down to delivering the baby at home, you should have on hand the following:

  • Clean sheets and towels
  • Tissues
  • A bulb syringe
  • Clean, soft receiving blankets
  • A hat for the baby (to prevent heat loss)
  • Large sanitary napkins
  • A phone number for emergency care

One of the most important things is to not panic. The more prepared you are for this eventuality, the more likely you will be to handle it calmly. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you -- and especially your partner -- read up on how to handle an emergency birth. I would recommend the book Emergency Childbirth.

- Kira Smith, M.Ed,

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