Birth Happens: things to consider when there is no doctor or hospital available

This guest post by Marilyn C and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

This contest will end on April 22 2013  – prizes include:

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rules that are listed below first…  A philosophical rant on raising a child to survive the end of times

You have a years worth of food, water, ammo, and batteries. You have a well stocked first-aid kit including sutures. Are you ready for something else that happens within a year? Are you prepared for childbirth? Babies don’t wait for anybody or anything. They arrive on their own time-table despite what is happening around you. Knowledge about prenatal, birth and postpartum are important topics to either make you a wise consumer of services or to give you the tools to cope with an emergency situation .Do you know what to do if your midwife doesn’t get there in time or you end up birthing a baby on the side of the road on the way to the hospital? Do you feel confident that if the SHTF you will have the skills and supplies to handle birth in your bunker?

These are all important topics to think about. Many women feel comfortable with birth. Many men would rather set a broken leg or remove shrapnel. Of course this is stereo-typing. I have worked with many couples in my 36 years of midwifery where the men could not wait to “catch” their babies. They also had the luxury of me by their side gloved and ready to take over if necessary. The good news is that most of the time everything went just as planned and a smooth transition to the world was experienced by the baby.

But remember “stuff “ happens. It would be foolish to think that all births have no problems. I can tell you that most problems can be handled by a cool head and quick knowledgeable hands. Can I teach you how to birth a baby safely? Well that depends on the circumstances. Do you have the luxury of a quick 911 call if an emergency presents itself ? Or are you eight feet under ground with no communication? How you deal with each possible situation will depend on the circumstances surrounding the event .

The nice thing about preparing for childbirth is that you may have months of preparation time. If you use it well there is no reason that under most situations you will have a positive outcome. Having said that I do need to point out that like life birth is unpredictable. Hospitals and some doctors have caused many problems such as high caesarean rates, unnecessary inductions, infections and other iatrogenic mistakes that take the lives of mothers and babies. They also can be a life saver in the instances where the mom or baby need advanced care.

We can all reminisce about the good old days but some of those days weren’t that great. Women did die from things such as hemorrhage that can be treated now with drugs and fluids. There were tools for extracting dead babies in pieces for the ones that truly were stuck and finally gave up. I don’t want anyone to take this subject lightly.

If you plan a birth without a trained assistant such as a midwife or doctor you need to know when you have reached you limit of expertise. If you have the option of a call for help it could be the difference between life and death for two people you love very much. On the other hand if there is no option of help then you need to be as knowledgeable as possible and always know that in the end you are not in control. Prayer is always helpful.

So lets talk about some basic strategy. I can not teach you my 36 years of birth knowledge in one article. I am working on a four-part course to offer preppers who want some insight into what to do in case they find themselves birthing a baby either by choice or necessity

1. Start considering this scenario. By reading this article you should have more questions than answers. You have taken the first step to childbirth preparedness. Now ask yourself these questions. What are the odds that someone in my family or prepper community would need my help? If not you then who?

Does your bug out plans include a larger circle of people who may have the skills you need for birth? Do you feel that all families should have this knowledge? If your wife has these skills she may be a little preoccupied at the time to make emergency decisions. Can you step up? Ai my last two births my husband caught our babies but I had a knowledgeable apprentice there so that I could enjoy the birth and she could watch for situations that may need tending to. There were not any but better prepared than sorry.

2. The internet is an amazing tool to research just about anything. You can get great information from the internet but you can also have the —- scared out of you by some of the information out there. I tell my clients to read all they want to but remember if you read enough you will get opinions from one end of the spectrum to another. Most of the information out there is someone’s opinion. Make sure you read enough to form your own educated opinions. I recently helped a couple in the birth of their twins.

I am always very excited to meet people who have such faith in the birth process that they can shut out all the negative comments that they are subjected to and stay positive and remember that birth is a well designed event that is meant to work. I purposely did not go on the internet and trusted my skills and the knowledge that I had gained from the other wonderful twin births I have had the privilege to attend.

The birth went very well as I expected. After it was over I asked my assistant if she had looked on the internet for information about twin births as this was her first time attending a twin birth and her comment was “ yes and it was awful “. It seems that there is not much positive information out there. This is an example on how you can get good positive helpful information on the web but you can also fill your self with fear. When it comes to birth there is no shortage of fear.

3. People can be a positive influence in your birth plans but they also can be very negative. One of my recent clients had to stop going to her favorite nail salon because every time she went and they saw her bulging belly the workers and other clients would start telling their horror stories.

To many people in this sometimes backwards world a good birth story is boring and they love to tell you about what went wrong with either them or someone they know or heard about. They never stop to think that they don’t have the facts. I used to work with a midwife who when someone would say “ so and so had to have a cesarean “ She would answer “ how was the baby when it was born?” The usual answer was “ just fine “ and she would reply “ so the baby was in such distress that they had to operate but it was fine at the birth.

What caused that? The knife cutting the stomach? “ Of course this is a bit cynical but there is a lot of truth there also. While a cesarean can be a wonderful life saving event it is often done for reasons other than it’s purpose and instead can be a life changing event. It is major abdominal surgery that requires a longer recovery time and has an increased chance of infection. It makes taking care of the new baby much more difficult not to mention how hard it is if you already have a house full of little ones.

If you are planning a large family having a cesarean limit’s the number of babies you can safely have if you go by traditional medical advise. Of course there is the option of having a v-bac ( vaginal birth after cesarean ) but it is sometimes very hard to find a doctor or midwife who will attend one at home or even in the hospital in some areas. If you want help you will need to network.

4. Having a plan in place is paramount. You planned your bug out bag, stocked your home and have a second stash somewhere else “ just in case “. What is your plan for birth? Do you have supplies? Do you have any idea what you need ? The good news is that you probably have time to ponder these question and you now are aware that in this area you may not be as prepared as you thought because remember BIRTH HAPPENS

Please add your thoughts in the comments section below…

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Petticoat Prepper says:

    Great start! I’m looking forward to the remaining sections of this article. My DD has some training and would be good to have around (EMT basic) but at my age….she’d be the one having and I’d be catching. This is a concern of mine. I’ve looked at the OB kit on amazon and definately want to add to my first aid kit.

    Thanks for working on a much needed section!

  2. JP in MT says:

    Remeber to Spay/Neuter your family and friends before the SHTF! That way we won’t have these issues 😉

  3. I bought the book “Where there is no Doctor” and downloaded the copy of “where women have no doctor” but haven’t yet read it, and could not print it due to the length. Do you recommend purchasing it? Are there any others you would recommend instead?

    Thankfully, I’m way past that, but some of my children have not yet been spayed/neutered (thanks, JP in Montana)

    • I think all books are great except ” What to expect when you are expecting ” but that is my private peeve. Read all you can. Knowledge is power and then faith is a huge component also.

  4. Since no one else posted it I guess I will.

    “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!”

    • I once got to us this line. I was at a Harvest Festival at my kids school. I was dressed in Gone With the Wind type clothes. I literately got called out to a small house behind a big old mansion and came running in wearing my ” costume “. I couldn’t resist saying it either !

  5. What about field circumcisions?

  6. Very nice Marilyn!
    Like PP said, this is a much needed subject.
    And like JP said, spay and neuter now! The vet is much less expensive than the MD. LOL. Just kidding.

    I have had four great home births. All different. None considered normal. Not horror stories but an explanation of how a birth can have some “problems” and be perfectly fine for the mother and the baby.

    The first baby was very big and difficult to deliver with a big repair afterwards.
    The second was posterior and very difficult to find a position to ease the baby out. The pain management was difficult, but doable. It seemed for me that the posterior babies got hung up.

    The third had a true knot in his cord and meconium in the waters. I never had a baby flip and spin so much.

    The fourth, posterior (same difiiculty as the second) with the cord twice wrapped around her neck.
    All big babies. 9-10 lbs.
    These births could and would have been considered “high risk” but I had terrific support. Often two midwives. One for my body and mental support, one for the baby.
    I learned fantastic pain management, focus and was able to “allow” my body to do what it needed to do to bring my child forth.
    Each birth was four and half hours. Almost to the exact minute. We have made jokes about timing.
    Since then, I have worked as a Doula. About once a year for a friend and family members. I give support, teach visualzation, and do massage.
    I have caught a few babies including my own. While I am DEFINETLY not an experienced midwife I have read as much as I possibly can on birth. Watched countless videos and I have some hands on knowledge.
    I have seen woman ruin their own birth experience with high expectations and crazy unrealistic birth plans.
    I have seen some young mothers who breezed right through it, without a worry.
    I have seen experienced mothers do great at one birth then lose it at another.
    Mother support is very important so she can feel in control of her birth. Sometimes the poor husband can get alittle beat up.

    We will have alot of 20-30 something people in my SHTF group. We have stocked up on CASES of condoms and birth control. It is not a good idea to get pregnant during war or famine. I tell them to wrap it and save the baby for a calmer time. Especially if they had a birth with complications and a CS previously.
    However, you are right. The babies will come. Yes indeedy.

    I hope there are more installments coming soon! Maybe helping folks learn to deal with some of the issues stated above and more! I am excited, keep writing please.

    • Hi Mama J
      Great stories of what variation we see during births. I LOVE big babies ! Two of mine were 9 and 10 pounds so I can relate. Support is so important. Your group is lucky to have your experience and cool thinking if this is an issue they have to deal with. Thanks for the great feedback.

  7. You watched Walking Dead episode when Laurie died with a C-section, didn’t you? This made me wonder what to do. Thanks for your info.

    • No I haven’t but it amazes me how the perception is that the easy way out is to have a “section “. You are more likely to die or face injury with surgery

  8. This is something that I have been thinking about. Two of the 3 dil’s can no longer have children, but I have 6 gd’s all of which are too young right now. I am concerned for their future. I try to learn all that I can so that I can teach them.

  9. Pineslayer says:

    Thank you for the post, it is getting printed out for the binders. You are a very valuable asset to those around you. you will do well.

  10. Grannytraveler says:

    I’ve delivered both ways: vaginally and c-section. My first vaginal birth was 9 lbs.15 oz. Great birth. All I can say is that I was very happy for my second one who was delivered very healthy, via c-section. He was almost 12 lbs and breech. I had a nurse come in later and say that I should be very thankful that I had not delivered in her home in the Philippines as they would have cut him out of me. There was no way he was coming out vaginally. Today he is 6’7″ and healthy and intelligent. I thank a c-section for that. Not all c-sections are unnecessary.
    I do heartily recommend doing as much research as possible. I do worry about my daughter and dil’s in regards to pregnancy. My granddaughters are still very young but time has a way of marching on.

    • Petticoat Prepper says:

      Yes, not all c-sections are unnecessary. I had DD via c-section because she was sideways. 9 lbs of baby swinging in a hammock and in no hurry at all.

  11. Sw't Tater says:

    looking forward to more articles… and Thanking God for Spaying.!

  12. I am also part of the Midwifery community and feel very grateful for the knowledge that I have and have access to. As birth is mostly mindset, I fear there will be a great deal of women having a very difficult time giving birth, considering our current society norms. Midwives will have their work cut out for them!
    I have given birth 6 times and although most were amazing, life changing moments, without a skilled caregiver, they possibly could have been very different and possible fatal.
    Number 1 my water broke at 33 weeks. I went in to labor a week later and gave birth via C-section to a 4 lb 11oz baby boy. He was both breach and in distress. He probably would have been lost with out the C-section.
    Number 2 was a v-bac in a hospital with a doctor, whom I knick named “the butcher”. She was stuck and pulled out by vacuum. This is a prime example of a birth that probably would have went smoothly had I had a Midwife. Without any medical help we likely both would have been lost.
    Number 3, 4 and 5 were born at home with the most fantastic Midwife known to man. All were born fast and easy with the inner knowledge that I could do anything.
    Number 6 was planned at home without any medical help. My water broke at 37 weeks. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind and was fearful, so I jumped in the car to the hospital and gave birth easily with the on call doc and then went home. The baby had a funky head position putting huge pressure on my bladder and I wasn’t sure what was going on. A little Midwife presence would have been invaluable, but the thing that I have learned about birth is that even your own are all completely different.
    After SHTF and we are all on our own, I do hope that I will be assisting in birth and other people are killing our food. We will all have to work together, using our strengths.
    I look forward to your further articles and I hope you do touch upon natural birth control, including nursing, which I didn’t touch on in my own article.

    • Hi Raylene
      Nice to hear from a kindred spirit. I agree on the birthin vs hunting thing. I will happily hunt if I need to but would much rather help heal. In the ” old days” premies were put in a dresser drawer and taken care of and the strong survived. I do believe that there should be some middle ground and that we have the technology to keep babies alive that are not ready for life. Of course any Mother would choose to do all they can for their child. As I said in my article, C-sacs can be life savers but I did work with a doctor for several years in a back country clinic and we had a very low rate with good outcomes by trusting that given time babies do get born. I am skilled in breech and twin births and I help women birth after c-sec including multiple operations. In a situation where there is no option to transport there would be loss of life but I believe that it would be on par with what we see today from over use of intervention.

  13. Something to keep in mind is to keep a bag of supplies in your car in case you deliver on the way to the hospital. My second child was born in the car but fortunately we had a plastic shower curtain for the seat and blankets and a baby hat. And we were also blessed that my husband paid attention when we took a childbirth class long ago and that he stayed calm.

    Let me say thank you to all of you midwives! After giving birth in the car, I decided to stay home for the next two babies and it was a wonderful experience. Alas, the midwives retired and moved – so baby number five was born in the hospital. All went well but the experience wasn’t nearly as peaceful.

  14. Ah, you’ve struck a chord with me! I lacked the confidence to use a midwife with #1. A VERY easy birth (only complication was Dr. Pulled the cord before the placenta detached, I suffered severe hemorrhaging. Emergency d&c with NO meds). I should have been left deliver it when it was time. If the baby had been put to my breast IMMEDIATELY it might have speeded up the placental delivery.
    #2 we had a nurse midwife. God bless her! I delivered a 10+ lb who came out face up, cord 2x around his neck. Big headed thing had a quiet peaceful entry to this world. No screaming from any of us.
    Once women realize the docs are for crisis, not normal childbirth, the need for Dr intervention should decrease. A good midwife is worth his/her weight in gold. A doula is a new mom’s best friend. What a wonderful team to start a new life out right.

  15. Your comment stuck a cord with me. One of my pet peeves is peoples reliance on “experts” for everything. Do babies really need “well baby” visits and do they need a specialist for their care. I believe in a family doctor that takes care of the whole family when necessary. Just call me “old school”. Thanks for all the great comments everyone.

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