First Aid: Childbirth Emergency

Childbirth First Aid:

Childbirth usually takes several hours. Although in exceptional cases a baby arrives suddenly before it is possible to move the mother to hospital. It is rare for this to happen with a mother’s first baby because the birth canal needs to undergo a great deal of stretching and adaptation to allow the baby’s head to move down from the womb.

  • Assist the mother into a suitable position
  • Assist her to lie down on a bed, or the floor, if delivery seems to be imminent.
  • Place a piece of plastic covered by old sheets or towels under the mother to protect the bed or floor.
  • Reassure the mother that help is coming and that you will stay with her.


Towels, plastic sheet, and newspapers
Soft blanket for the baby
Gloves (ideally disposable surgical gloves), if available
Thick string, clean shoelace, or sterile tape to tie off umbilical cord
Plastic bag for placenta


After delivery, hold the baby with his or her head slightly lower than the feet to drain fluid from the nose and throat. Do not hold the baby upside down or slap him or her. Gently dry off the baby and wrap him or her in a dry towel or blanket. The baby should start breathing and his or her color should improve as oxygen is breathed in. If the baby does not start breathing, place the baby on his or her back and gently rub the chest or tap the bottoms of the feet. If the baby still does not begin breathing, start mouth-to-mouth-and-nose resuscitation.



The umbilical cord will pulsate during the birth and afterward, indicating that the baby is still receiving blood from the mother. Do not cut the cord until it stops pulsating. After it has stopped pulsating, tie off the cord tightly with heavy string, a clean shoelace, or sterile tape about 4 inches from the baby; tie it again 2 to 4 inches from the first string. Cut between the two ties. Wrap the baby in a soft blanket and place him or her on the mother’s stomach.

REMEMBER TO Note the time of birth.

Childbirth complications

There are a number of problems that can occur during childbirth and very little that a first aider can do except stay with the mother and keep her calm until an ambulance arrives.

  • Seek medical assistance urgently and Call 911 for an ambulance
  • Observe the patient closely

Keep the mother at rest and lying down. Reassure her but tell her to try to stop pushing with each contraction. Ask the mother to pant hard with each contraction to slow the baby’s progress down the birth canal. Place some padding under her right hip and buttock to move the baby off her deep veins and assist with the return of blood to her heart.

While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, observe the patient closely for any change in condition.  Moisten the patient’s lips if they are dry, but avoid giving any food or fluids because an anaesthetic is likely to be needed on arrival in hospital. Reassure the patient until the ambulance arrives.


Delivery Images

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