Accidental midwife?
November 13, 2008 2:48 AM   Subscribe

I've been asked to babysit a woman who is 9 months pregnant tonight. What do I do if she goes into labour?

This is a good friend of mine whose family is going out of town, so I'm going to spend the night with her in case anything happens. Her due date is 4 days from today, so I'm guessing there's some significant chance she could go into labour. This will be her 5th child but it would be my first time dealing with this situation, so I'm feeling quite nervous.

So, if her water breaks and all that, what should I expect and what should I do other than the obvious, i.e. driving her to the hospital? What kind of care and support should I provide? Neither of us are close to fluent in each other's native languages; we usually communicate fairly well, but this is clearly the sort of situation where stress could cause communication to break down, so I'd like advice beforehand about what her needs might be and how I can handle them. My level of exposure to, um, childbirth is so minimal that I can't formulate any more specific questions.
posted by xanthippe to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
I'd like advice beforehand about what her needs might be and how I can handle them.

Why don't you discuss this with her tonight while you're "babysitting," or before then if you're really nervous? It's her fifth kid, she knows what to do and what will happen. And she's not going to lose her faculties if she goes into labor; she'll still be able to tell you what she needs from you.
posted by amro at 2:56 AM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

She'll know what to do, I very much doubt that you'll have to do anything other than driver her to the hospital if needs be, and generally make her feel comfortable by getting up and grabbing anything that she wants if she wants you to.
If her other children are there ensure you know what is to happen to them if she goes to hospital. And have any contact numbers you can think of to hand, remember to take them if you do go.
Ensure when you get there that you know where the things she wants to take to the hospital are, and you can grab them on your way to the car if needs be.
I think there are probably some geographical differences in care, but here in England they appreciate a phone call at the hospital to let them know to expect you just before you leave, then they can get any notes together/prepare a room if it's been too busy to be considered.
I undertook a year of midwifery training, and faced with your situation I would do whatever I normally did with the friend, when she wasn't pregnant. Chill out, watch movies, ask her what she feels like doing. Then if things kicked off, offer to run her a bath (if her waters havn't gone) and take her to the hospital when she felt the time was right.
She'll pretty much know the score by now, if the other 4 were quick labours, chances are this one will be too.
If you do end up with a baby in your hands before you know it, keep it warm, and call the ambulance, they'll guide you from there
posted by Tingle at 3:12 AM on November 13, 2008

I will, but I'm fairly certain she will say "don't worry" and "drive me to the hospital". I guess this question is as much for my own comfort as hers, as I do trust that she knows what to do.

Also, I hope my use of "babysitting" doesn't seem condescending - I meant it ironically, as my main function will actually be to babysit the other 4 kids as needed.
posted by xanthippe at 3:16 AM on November 13, 2008

Dial 911 or the equivalent. Let the pros take over.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:55 AM on November 13, 2008

If you are planning to drive her to the hospital you might want to put a layer of plastic protection (i.e. a garbage bag) on the passenger seat, covered by a towel beforehand. If you will be bringing the four kids to the hospital too make sure their car seats have been transferred over as soon as you get there. Have a bag packed for things for the other children to grab on the way out the door (books/toys/diapers/snacks/change of clothing). Bring your camera. Have everyone's important contact information. If you have time, practise the route to the hospital from her home (or else drive from the hospital to her home) so you are familiar with any alterations in the route you need to make.

Even with her fifth you are unlikely to be catching the baby because she will be familiar with the non-labour indications that she will be giving birth. You will get to the hospital in plenty of time.
posted by saucysault at 4:09 AM on November 13, 2008

You won't need to dial 911. It's not an emergency. She's having a baby. It's very rare that she will start laboring and deliver so quickly you won't have time to make it to the hospital. People have babies all of the time without even GOING to the hospital. Basically, just take your cues from her. Find out when you get there what she wants you to do in case labor does begin. Stay relaxed, and don't freak out if things start to get going. Tingle pretty much covered everything I think.
posted by Roger Dodger at 4:11 AM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Dial 911 or the equivalent. Let the pros take over.

This is absolutely NOT what to do. If she has had five children, she knows the deal. And if she has any sort of birth plan in mind, I doubt paramedics enter into it in any way.
posted by stefnet at 5:23 AM on November 13, 2008 [6 favorites]

Labor generally starts out gradually. Unless she is a rare case you will have plenty of warning.

She will know what to do. Just do what she tells you.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:00 AM on November 13, 2008

A year or so ago, I was carpooling with a co-worker who was, at the point, increasingly pregnant. I don't know anything about birthin' no babies (except what I've seen on TV), so we made a plan for what to do if she went into labor while we were at work (30 miles south of our home city). I put her husband's number in my cellphone, put maps and directions to nearby hospitals into the car, and just generally felt better for having made a plan. We didn't need the plan, of course, but it was good to have.

Make a plan with her - get the relevant phone numbers, be sure you know two ways to the hospital (what if a tree falls across the road on the only route you know? It could happen!), and let her show you where her this-stuff-goes-to-the-hospital bag is kept.
posted by rtha at 6:35 AM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Unless her previous 4 kids came really fast, just make sure the car 7 keys are ready to go. You don't need to call 911 unless she says something is wrong. She should have her health care providers' numbers available, as well as her partner's contact info, if that applies.

Wouldn't hurt to carry a camera.
posted by theora55 at 9:19 AM on November 13, 2008

just make sure the car & keys are ready to go
posted by theora55 at 9:20 AM on November 13, 2008

I'd worry more about yourself than her.

She will likely have a "birth bag" or equivalent with everything she needs....

For you....
Do you have anything like contact lenses or medicine you require. If you end up going to the hospital or overnight at her place and/or staying her until the baby comes, will YOU need anything.

Made sure you have a change of clothes and a warm jacket if you end up spending the night on a couch at the hospital.

Bring your cell phone charger and equivalents.

Leave a note if you go saying where you've gone.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:49 AM on November 13, 2008

She didn't go into labour, all is well. Thanks for the advice.
posted by xanthippe at 11:58 PM on November 13, 2008

« Older How do I migrate from b2evolution to Wordpress?   |   Mystery building Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.