CNN reporter Josh Levs had a rough start with each of his 3 children, but they all turned out perfectly healthy in the end. His oldest child was born with an audible heart defect that required immediate open-heart surgery on the newborn. His youngest child came with a nationally high-profile lawsuit when Levs sued Time Warner for more paternity leave. His middle child came 3 weeks early and without warning — no water breaking, no gradual increase of contractions, just an impromptu baby, not breathing, on his bedroom floor.
While unusual, it’s not impossible for a woman who’s already had her first kid to deliver a baby in such an abbreviated way. If you find yourself stranded and dealing with a similar case of insta-baby, just relax and follow Levs’ lead. Or freak out but still follow Levs’ lead.
1. Aim For The Linoleum
And bring towels. Levs was minding his business one day when his wife went from totally normal to placenta dispensing in mere minutes. “My second son and my wife conspired to skip labor altogether,” Levs tells Fatherly. “She just fell on the floor in our bedroom and stuff started coming out.” Side note: re-carpeting a 12×12 room averages $300-$600.
“She just fell on the floor in our bedroom and stuff started coming out.”
2. Call 911
“I was on the phone with 911, and I held and guided him out,” Levs recalls. “It was actually really scary because he showed no signs of breathing for more than 80 seconds, which I knew [to look for] from the 911 call.” This might be the one time that a Bluetooth headset isn’t uncool.
3. Ignore 911
Sometimes, according to Levs, 911’s step-by-step instructions don’t apply: “The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck 5 times. The operator was telling me to cut the cord, but I knew you’re not supposed to cut the cord until the baby is breathing because he gets oxygen that way — it was just blind luck that I knew that.”
4. Un-Strangle Your Progeny
In the not-so-rare case that junior comes with an umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, do not hold the cord and drop the infant to let him spin out of it. Slow and steady is the call here. “I unraveled it without jostling him, and I put him down and stroked him a bit. He opened his eyes and started breathing. He was perfect,” says Levs.
This might be the one time that a Bluetooth headset isn’t uncool.
5. Don’t Drop The Baby
The operator reminded Levs of something obvious but important: newborns come slippery. You have to support the entire body firmly during birth but not too firmly. Think of it as a really important bar of soap.
6. Cut The Cord … Or Don’t
Even if your kid is breathing normally, opinions differ on when is the right time to sever the connection with mission control. In the 50s, doctors began cutting within the first minute of delivery to protect the baby from any postpartum hemorrhage drugs given to the mother. But a growing number of doctors believe immediately cutting can trap blood in the placenta and cause the baby to lose blood. That can lead to anemia, iron deficiency or even cerebral palsy. Most sources recommend that makeshift OBGYNs like Levs simply leave the cord alone until help arrives.
One last note: When they say “cutting” they really mean “clamping.” If you’re wondering, Levs used a shoelace.