New research: Women most likely to give birth before they reach hospital

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Research: Women most likely to give birth on the way to hospital

Australian researchers have discovered why some mums have their babies before getting to the hospital, revealing the five types of women who are more likely to have an unexpected arrival.

The data of more than one million NSW births was studied by Western Sydney University and Flinders University researchers, to figure out what why some babies are Born Before Arrival (BBA).

They found that babies are more likely to be born before getting hospital if:

1. The mother is Australian-born and having her second baby

2. The family has limited access to medical assistance, due to living in a rural area with greater than two hours’ drive to a maternity unit

3. The baby is female and of a low birth weight

4. The mother is of lower socioeconomic status

5. The mother gives birth in an area that has a high rate of homebirth

While bathroom, car or ambulance births are rare, it’s a real fear for pregnant women. “In Australia, around 4 in 1000 births occur before the mother has arrived at the hospital,” said Western Sydney University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery Professor Hannah Dahlen.

“These stats do not include planned home births which are attended by midwives. Most often, BBA is recorded when mothers intend to give birth at the hospital, but the mother has not been able to make it in time. Usually, the baby has been born in the home, on the way to the hospital or in an ambulance – without a midwife or doctor in attendance.”

Know the risk factors

Car birth on the way to hospital

Pregnant women are now being urged to know the risk factors, so they can plan when to head into the hospital once in labour.

“It is really important that women don’t worry too much about this happening – as the chances are small and most of the time it all turns out well,”  lead researcher Associate Professor Charlene Thornton explained.

“However, if you expect that you might have difficulty getting to the hospital; you are having your second baby and the first birth was reasonably quick – it might be worth having a bag packed early.”

What to do if your baby does arrive early

As mums know, babies do everything in their own time – and that includes being born. So to be prepared Western Sydney and Flinders University experts have put together a list of what to do if your bub is born before you get to hospital:

  • Call an ambulance and someone will be able to talk you through the birth until the ambulance arrives.
  • Get down low and put a towel under you so the baby has a soft landing. Don’t sit on the toilet.
  • Warm some towels. If you have a heater put it on and get some towels on it or in the dryer to warm.
  • Put the baby straight on your chest and rub dry with a towel. Get whoever is there to put a second warm dry towel over the baby removing the now damp one. Your skin is the best way to warm bub.
  • If the baby is not breathing try blowing in her face as the cold air can make her gasp and take a breath. If that doesn’t work rub the baby’s back up and down with the towel as this can stimulate her to breathe.
  • If the baby doesn’t respond to these initial steps you may need to resuscitate her using CPR, but this is rare.
  • Keep the baby warm at all times and especially cover the head as this is where a lot of heat is lost.
  • Do NOT cut the cord or attempt to tie it with string or shoelaces or anything else, just leave it attached to the baby.
  • Do NOT pull on the cord and try to deliver the placenta as you may cause heavy bleeding or even pull the uterus out which is then a serious emergency.
  • Try to stay calm, and maintain skin-to-skin contact with your baby, as help will arrive soon.

We have some extraordinary unexpected birth stories on the site. Take a look at these:

(images via Lydia KirkPettijohn family and Melissa Ayling)

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