Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to help with childbirth or miscarriage in an emergency.

Quick help

  • Call 111 for an ambulance, and call a midwife if one is available.|

  • Check that the person is happy for you to touch them before you give first aid. If they are unconscious and you need to check for injuries or give lifesaving first aid, then don’t delay.



Childbirth can take hours, or days, and it can also take you by surprise. Here’s what you can do if someone goes into labour while you wait for the ambulance to arrive


Miscarriages can look different in each case. When a miscarriage has started, focus on reassuring and helping them to be as comfortable as possible while you wait for an ambulance. 

What to look for

Signs labour has started

  • Cramping: Cramps that come and go. These could happen every few minutes. 
  • Watery liquid from the vagina: The person’s water might break.
  • Urge to push: An urge to push when the baby is ready to be born. 
  • Overwhelmed: A feeling of excitement and anxiety.

Signs of miscarriage

  • Heavy bleeding: The most common sign of a miscarriage is heavy bleeding from the vagina. 
  • Cramping: Cramps and pain in the lower stomach area. 
  • Looking pale and unwell: Keep an eye out for cold and clammy skin, paleness or feeling faint.


How you can help


  • Call for help: Call 111 for an ambulance. If the birth parent has a midwife call them too. 
  • Comfort them: If it seems like the baby is coming, check that the birth parent is happy for you to touch them before helping them into a position that’s comfortable. Reassure them that help is coming and you’re there for support. 
  • Keep an eye on them: Watch for any signs of complications. These could be lots of bleeding, or pain that doesn’t feel right, like a bad cramp in the lower belly.

Complications with childbirth

The main thing you can do is stay with the birth parent and help them stay calm until an ambulance arrives. While you wait, here are some other things you can do:

  • Make sure the birth parent stays lying down.  
  • Tell them to try not to push. Instead, ask them to pant hard with each contraction. 
  • Place a pillow under their right hip and buttock. This will move the baby into a safer position.


  • Call an ambulance: Call 111 for an ambulance. If the birth parent has a midwife call them too. 
  • Keep an eye on them: Look for any changes in symptoms, such as increased bleeding, or changes in their level of consciousness.
  • Avoid food and water: Moisten their lips if they look dry, but don’t give them any food or water. They might need an empty stomach for treatment at the hospital.  


If you have a person in urgent need of medical attention, call 111 now.


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