Car Births Happen: Here’s How To Prepare For An Unexpected Delivery

Very upset hispanic or middle eastern man driving his car

When Detroit Red Wings centerman Darren Helms’ girlfriend went into labor in 2015, the professional hockey player began driving as fast as he could to get to the hospital, but he wasn’t fast enough. Soon the couple was facing an unusual and scary situation: Baby girl Rylee was quick to come, born in Helms’ car on the side of I-96 on a March morning at 2:15 just five minutes away from the hospital, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Helms recalled the events just prior to delivery. He’d gone to bed early after his team won against St. Louis earlier in the day, and his girlfriend Devon came to him in the middle of the night.

“She kind of woke me up and said things were happening real fast,” Helm said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “It came on so quick, we thought we’d have some time to get to the hospital, and things just took turn. The baby was ready to come out and say hello, and that’s what she did.”

Have an emergency birth kit

What Helms, Devon and Rylee experienced is unusual, but not unheard of. As such, it’s important that pregnant women and their partners talk about what they would do if they find themselves in a similar situation.

To prepare for the unexpected, make sure you have all the necessary supplies in reach as you get further along in your pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests putting together an emergency birth kit that includes essential supplies such as:

  • Clean towels and sheets.
  • Clean scissors.
  • Sterile gloves and sanitary pads.
  • Diapers.
  • Instructions for infant-rescue breathing procedures.

Having these items on hand can help make the birthing process a little bit easier.

Know the early signs of labor

Every woman experiences labor differently. If you’re a first-time mom, you may not know how your body or baby will respond to labor, but if this isn’t your first go-round you might be able to draw insight from your past childbirth experiences. However, that’s not to say you should assume your labor with Baby No. 2 will be the same as it was with Baby No. 1. Additionally, it’s common for first labors to take longer than subsequent deliveries, so if you already have one or two children in tow, keep in mind that a quicker labor is possible.

Here are a few signs that it’s close to delivery time, according to What To Expect:

  • You have labor contractions that are three to four minutes apart.
  • Your water has broken.
  • You feel an overwhelming urge to push.

This last point is crucial. Baby Center pointed out that in less than 1 percent of pregnancies, women don’t have many contractions or other labor symptoms before the urge to push. If you get this urge on your way to the hospital, try to hold off. Use breathing techniques to keep calm and collected, and try lying on your side. However, you’ll still want to get prepared by disrobing from the waist down, and call your doctor or emergency services for advice.

Having a baby is an incredibly emotional experience in the best of circumstances. But when it happens in an unanticipated way, it can quickly become nerve-wracking or scary. Being prepared can help you welcome your little one to the world as best as you can.