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Delivering a baby when there are no medical facilities.

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The above link is very informative and shows pictures in a step-by-step manner. However, it assumes that there will be medical facilities to go to after the emergency birth.

In a situation where you are in a survival setting with limited resources, what can you adapt and utilise to replace products that have previously been freely available?

Babies don’t appear from nowhere, so you can plan for the labour and obtain what equipment you need in advance. If you are a first-time mum, discuss with others, especially women who already have children and what their experiences were like. This is something that occurs naturally amongst women and can be reassuring in the absence of a midwife or other medical professional.

Let’s assume the worst scenario, you are on foot in the countryside.

Choose an area where the mother can be secluded from the main group, providing a degree of privacy and quiet.

Allocate a preferred person to be with the mother and reassure/support her. Someone whom the mum has a rapport with, she’s more likely to listen to advice/instruction from them. Avoid people with infections like colds etc meeting mum and baby as both are susceptible to infections.

Prepare items needed for the birth:

Water, both drinking water and saline water for cleaning/soap or alternative/clean cloths/clean clothes for baby/something to wrap baby in/something to tie off and cut the umbilical cord/pain relief.

Making the mother comfortable when birth is imminent:

Utilise what’s available in your surroundings like logs/rocks as a back rest and cover with moss/grasses for some comfort.

Use clean cloth/moss underneath the mother as a delivery pad, it is spongy and absorbent.

The issue of pain relief in an expectant mum in a remote location is tricky. There are many claims of natural herbs/oils that can be used, but I would not like to mislead the reader, so do your own research. If you have some Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) in your survival kit, this is the safest option.

Massaging the expectant mum during labour can be of benefit but is also a personal choice, so check with mum beforehand.

A warm cloth, in the absence of a hot water bottle is also beneficial to help relax during labour/contractions.

Drinking water for mum to sip throughout is important as she will be losing fluid due to sweating and from the process of labour, it’s also key to producing breast milk effectively.

It is important that the mother’s genital area is clean to reduce the risk of bacteria passing to the baby after birth.

If possible, mum should evacuate her bowels prior to the birthing process to avoid faecal contamination of the baby and reduce risk of infection of the vagina/genital area. Should it happen during the birthing process, clean it away as soon as possible.

Use saline water for this. Ideally cooled boiled water with some salt added. This can also be used for cleaning Mum and baby after delivery.

Follow the steps in the top link above as far as is possible. It’s highly unlikely you will have sterile gloves for example, but clean washed hands are just as good. In the absence of soap, wet hands and rub small amount of salt as if washing your hands with soap, then rinse off with water.

In a situation where you have no sanitary pads for Mum after the birth and nappies/diapers for baby, again use clean cloths or moss if available.

Once baby and Mum have had some skin-on-skin contact and baby has taken its first breast feed, baby can be cleaned with a warm damp cloth and wrapped in clean clothes, even if it’s an old clean shirt and then wrapped in a towel or blanket. A man’s sock or the sleeve of a jumper could be fashioned to make a hat if in a cold area and nothing else available. Again, think of these things in advance so you are not scrabbling about at the last minute.

Let Mum and baby have a well-earned rest but observe for signs of distress from either Mum or baby.

Mum not lactating? What to do

If mum is not producing breast milk, what can you do?  Baby needs to be nourished and will surely die if not fed.

Is there someone in your group who is a lactating mother? If so, best solution is to wet nurse via this lactating mum.

At the same time the new mum should continue to try and express her own milk. It sometimes takes a while for lactation to start, so don’t give up. Massaging the breasts gentle and drinking ample fluids should assist.

If not, what substitute can be used?  Read through the following link: see the references at the end and the comments from people who have used this method.

On researching for this article, I found scant evidence of effective solutions historically. Below is an article that shows the dilemma that new mothers faced in the past when unable to feed their babies. 


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