Unexpected Birth In A Hurry: Instructions for Birth Partners

The purpose of this page is to give you step-by-step instructions if the labour is going very quickly and you are not sure that anyone will arrive in time for the birth. While anything is possible, please be reassured that this is very unlikely to happen.

Symptoms of a fast labour

    • Hard, very strong contractions less than 2 minutes apart (timed start to start), and an urge to have a bowel movement or to push. Do not let her go to the toilet, as the baby could be injured if born there.
    • Bulging vaginal opening or baby’s head visible at the vagina.
    • The mother saying “THE BABY IS COMING.”
    • If all 3 signs are present, CALL 911.

What to do…


  • Call 911 and ask for an ambulance. Inform the operator that you have a midwife that you need to page. Page your midwife next and keep the phone free so that your midwife can call you back and talk you through the birth is she isn’t going to make it on time.
  • Unlock the door and turn on the porch light/outside light.
  • Have the mother lie down, on her side if possible, on the bed or on the floor with towels and/or a plastic sheet under her. In a pinch, you can use a shower curtain.
  • Gather some towels for drying off the baby.

Baby is coming

  • The mother may be having an uncontrollable urge to push. Let her do what her body tells her to do, but if possible, she should try not to push. Encourage her to pant (make a HUH HUH HUH sound) as this makes it harder for her body to push the baby down.
  • The baby’s head may be visible, and then recede. This is normal. Remind the mother not to push if the contraction is gone.
  • As the baby’s head is born, support it gently in your hands. It will naturally turn to one side.
  • Once the head is born, the rest of the baby usually comes with the next contraction.

Baby is born

  • Dry off the baby. Then put the baby, skin to skin, on the mother’s belly and cover the baby with DRY towels. The umbilical cord will still be attached so the baby may only be able to lie low on the mother’s belly. Make sure there is no tension on the cord. DO NOT CUT THE CORD.
  • If the baby does not breathe right away, quickly stimulate the baby by rubbing its back with a towel. Remember to discard the wet towels and replace them with dry ones.
  • It is normal for the baby to look blue or purple for the first few seconds until it starts to breathe.
  • Make sure the baby’s head (not the face) is covered to keep the baby warm.
  • The mother will continue to have contractions (milder) until the placenta is expelled. This may take up to 30 minutes to deliver. There will likely be someone else there at this point (the paramedics or your midwife).
  • If the placenta comes, do not cut or tie off the cord. Wait until help arrives. If the placenta is born, place it in a bowl, on a towel or in a plastic bag and lay it beside the mother.
  • Stay calm. Keep mother and baby warm, and help will arrive shortly. Babies who are born quickly are usually not stressed and they do very well.