Post-apocalyptic childbirth

Last week, we talked about post-apocalyptic pregnancy. This week, we move on to labor and delivery.
Again, the caveat: I am not a medical professional, midwife, or a doula. I’m writing this from the perspective of someone who’s given birth to two children.
Ready? Here we go!
Congratulations! You’ve gotten through the nine (ten) months of pregnancy! By now, your back is constantly sore, you have cankles, you can’t see your feet, and you spend 23.5 hours a day in the bathroom/outhouse because Junior’s favorite hobby is playing football with your bladder. And then…you get these horrible (and horrifying) cramps that make you think your insides are being ripped apart by a hungry T-Rex with extra-sharp claws and teeth.
You know what this means, right? Yep, labor. And that means your baby is about to arrive. It’s time to prepare for the delivery, because Junior could make his or her appearance in five minutes. Or he/she could wait thirty-six hours. I don’t know; it’s hard to tell. But it’s best to be prepared.
You may be wondering how you should prepare yourself for this. The answer: pain relief. With my oldest daughter, I spent half of my 21 hours of labor without an epidural. Then I was rushed to the OR for an emergency C-section, where my epidural REVERSED ITSELF (no idea how). Also, that scalpel? It hurts. My point is, I used to have a really low pain tolerance. Now, I can withstand pain that would make my pre-children self faint. (Also, I can now scream loud enough to wake the dead. Did I mention that scalpel hurts?)
So my tip to you is to stock up on any and all pain relievers you can get during your pregnancy. Since it’s doubtful the epidural will survive the apocalypse (I doubt we’ll have a plethora of anesthesiologists wandering around our dusty wasteland), your best bet is probably herbal medicine. Find out which herbs are good pain relievers, but won’t kill you or the baby. Because, you know, that would kinda defeat the purpose.
Now, we move on to the meaty part of this whole labor and delivery exercise. I don’t think I need to point out that the tiny human you’ve had on the inside of you for the past nine (ten) months now has to somehow get to the outside of you.
That pain you had during labor? Yeah, it gets worse. Your insides have been ripped apart by that hungry T-Rex, and they’re now being sucked out of you through your naughty bits by a thorny, pointy metal hook. Yay!
Obviously, pain relief is still important during this stage. The stronger the better. Heck, if you can numb yourself from the neck down, more power to you (that’s what I did, hehehe).
I should, however, point out that you will be delivering your baby in the post apocalypse. Hospitals will be rare. OB/GYNs will be even rarer (they may even be extinct). So who’s going to deliver your baby? I don’t suggest having your spouse do it. (Remember in movies where someone tells the husband to go boil some water and get clean towels? The towels are necessary. The boiled water is necessary, too, because it’s a way to get the flailing, freaked-out husband out of the room.)
In a world where OB/GYNs and fancy hospitals don’t exist, you’ll be relying on a midwife, a doula, or if you’re lucky, a nurse or nurse-practitioner. But I’m thinking a midwife or a doula. Or maybe the girl who lives in the tent next door.
This means that if something were to go wrong during delivery, you do not have the luxury of having a hospital operating room as a safety net.
Got that? Some women will die in childbirth. Women did in the past, before modern medicine. Women still do today if they don’t have access to a hospital and something goes wrong. Try to make yourself as mentally prepared as possible—having a baby will once again become a risk. You might die. You might not. It’s all a gamble.
Post-delivery period
Assuming everything goes well during labor and delivery, you now have your bouncing screaming bundle of joy. Or perhaps you don’t. And in the post apocalypse, I’m sorry to say that there won’t be many neo-natal ICUs around, either (if any at all). I’m well aware of the importance of NICUs, since my oldest daughter spent two days in one after she was born.
Unfortunately, that’s yet another luxury we likely won’t have in the post apocalypse. Something else to prepare yourself for: infant mortality rates will jump. They may even skyrocket. Your baby may make it past infancy. Or they may not. Only time will tell.
Of course, all of this will change as soon as civilization rebuilds itself. But to rebuild, we’ll need people. Which means that women will need to have babies—before hospitals and the medical profession can make a comeback. Are you up for it?
Next week: Post-apocalyptic new parenthood

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