Birth- Part 1, by A.E.

Typically, when we think about a survival situation, like TEOTWAWKI or SHTF, our minds race to food storage, defense, clean water, growing gardens, and raising livestock; often times, we forget other necessities, like good medical care and childbirth. According to the CDC, about 11,000 babies are born in the U.S. every day. If anyone in your family or group is of childbearing age, you might want to think about preparing for an out-of-hospital birth. Most people have never witnessed a “natural” or med-free birth. Therefore, they have no idea what natural birth looks like or how to prepare for it.

If you are a Bible-believing person of faith, you might also remember the verse in Matthew where Yeshua (Jesus) was speaking of the end of days and his second coming.

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.… let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:” – Matthew 24:7-8,17-20

Important We Prepare for Mothers and Children

If Yeshua openly foretold of these mothers, it seems mighty important that we prepare for them and their children. Unfortunately, almost everything that we have ever been told about childbirth comes from dramatic television shows and movies, designed to play on our emotions based on this sudden “emergent” event. But what if I told you birth doesn’t look anything like this in real life? How could I best prepare you for a true, med-free delivery in a survival situation, that would help you feel confident if the situation arose?

It is not my intention to teach you how to deliver a baby. I am not a doctor and I have no authority on the subject. I would implore you to seek advice from a licensed birth professional, or if you trust the Internet, there are plenty of youtube videos and websites that give great detail on how to deliver a baby. My intention, instead, is to show you that birth is not just about wearing gloves, removing a nuchal cord, or placenta delivery. These take moments, while labor takes hours and sometimes days. I encourage you to prepare for those long laborious hours as well.

Importance of the Mother’s Psyche

As a certified Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula, Postpartum Placenta Specialist, and Beravement Doula, I recognize the importance of the mother’s psyche when it comes to childbirth. More and more women are diagnosed every day with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Postpartum Depression that was triggered by their traumatic birthing experience. The saying, “As long as the baby is healthy…” is very much outdated and, honestly, incredibly damaging to the mother. I would like to propose that birth in a survival situation is more about the emotional health of the mother than the physical act of giving birth. I have heard it said many times by many midwives, “Normal physiological birth is as simple as not letting the baby hit the floor.” I promise, you can catch a baby, but getting the birthing mother to the pushing phase is another story all together.

The Birth Psyche

I am not a physician nor a scientist, so I will be sourcing facts from which I, and many others in the birth community, have found laden in truth, as well as from my own experiences as a servant in the birth room. Before Hypnobabies, the peanut ball, pitocin, obstetricians, and hospitals, women birthed their babies at home, in the woods, or on their farms and ranches. Sometimes there was a doctor or midwife who attended the birth, sometimes not. But almost every woman knew she would be deeply changed afterwards, and hopefully whoever attended her birth would gently usher her into motherhood.

Ina May Gaskin

Ina May Gaskin is one such midwife who helped pioneer the revival of med-free births in North America. She has written several books and is highly respected among birth professionals. In order to obtain a safe and natural birth in a crisis situation, I find it best to take our cues from the Natural Birth professionals.

Sphincter Law

In Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Gaskin coined the term “Sphincter Law”. The Sphincter Law states, “[L]abors that don’t result in a normal birth after a ‘reasonable’ amount of time are often slowed or stalled because of lack of privacy, fear, and stimulation of the wrong part of the laboring woman’s brain.”

Basically, the body has many sphincters, including excretory, vaginal, esophageal, and cervical. These sphincters can dilate or contract based on the emotional state of the person. For example, when someone walks in on you in the loo, they startle you, your veins flood with adrenalin, and they have indirectly stopped your “go”. This “contracting” of your excretory sphincters is your body’s normal reaction to fear, humiliation, regret, or lack of privacy. This is also why our throats tighten before a big speech or presentation, relating to fear.

Sphincter Law Applies to Birthing Woman

The Sphincter Law also applies to the birthing woman. These same emotions of fear or shame can and do stall labor. In a survival situation, I would find it incredibly important to respect the emotional and mental state of the birthing woman. Imagine the fear she might feel in such a situation; the fear of birth itself taunts every young girl and woman as it is. You can picture her in this crisis situation, giving birth to a child she fears for, in a questionably clean environment, all while the “world falls apart” around them all. Preparing the birthing woman emotionally for her birth can drastically change the ease at which the child is delivered.

Example of Sphincter Law in Delivery Scenario

In my first years as a doula, I had an example of the sphincter law at work in a delivery scenario. I worked for a couple who wanted a med-free birth, and they wanted to deliver at a local hospital under the care of an obstetrician. Their labor started on its own. Her body worked through the ebbs and flows of her frequent contractions. We determined it was time to head to the hospital, as her labor had progressed quickly and I believed we were close to delivery.

After settling in at the hospital, her contraction pattern was progressing as normal, until her nurse came in. She made a statement along the lines of, “You don’t get a medal for having a natural birth.” The nurse blatantly opposed my client’s well thought out plans. You can imagine my client’s loss of confidence and new distrust of her care provider. From then on, each time that particular nurse came in to check on my clients, her contractions would significantly space out, nearly stalling labor at some points. We would work for hours getting her patterns back to normal before the nurse would come back. These stall outs left my client labeled as “failure to progress” and she ended up with a cesarean section at 10cm dilated. My client could have been saved from a major surgery had her entire birth team been on board with her decisions.

The nurse’s comment initiated an immediate lack of trust, as well as fear and loss of esteem, which directly impacted the birth psyche and, ultimately, the safety of mother and baby. This is why we must respect the birthing woman and always offer encouragement instead of negativity. This will be especially significant in a survival situation.

Preparing for Birth

While you are preparing your checklists for survival, add a little box that says “Birth Prep”. You can easily and quickly prepare for a natural birth by simply acquiring a few books on natural birth or taking a childbirth education course locally.

Books on Natural Childbirth

I highly recommend Ina May Gaskin’s books, Spiritual Midwifery and her Guide to Childbirth, as well as Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon. However, there are many other books to choose from, based on your group’s preferences. Use these books for quick reference guides during pregnancy and labor.

Tomorrow, we will continue in this section on Preparing for Birth by talking about the birth team, place, and much more.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 76 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

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Round 76 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. In a survival situation, please do not take pregnancy or child birth lightly, having attended over 1000 c-sections and complicated deliveries over the last 40 years things can go south very quickly.
    In days past up to 20-25% of women died from pregnancy complications or child birth.

    1. Anyone who has children of childbearing years (or younger, for that matter, too) and is not stocking condoms in their preps is not being fully prepared—

    2. In a relatively short term emergency, avoiding pregnancy makes sense. However, in a real TEOTWAWKI situation, children are the only means of long term survival. Any group that is not fertile in that situation has no long term future.

  2. The sad truth is that in a more primitive environment the old laws of survival will maintain and people will suffer and people will die. It is within my lifetime that it was not uncommon for half of all children born to die before reaching age 18, many from childhood diseases that we now vaccinate against and then never give another thought. I had three brothers and one sister who died before I reached age 10, I was almost one of them. Childbirth is “easy” 95% of the time either in ideal conditions or in primitive conditions. It’s that 5% that will be very problematic if our medical environment regresses back to a 19th century situation and the results for both mother and child will be roughly as it was in those times. This will be true for common illnesses too. People will dies from pneumonia when they were strong and healthy mere days ago. It is a reality of a pre-modern medical environment.

    1. Excellent article! I’ve had a lot of first-hand experience with sphincter law myself. The more relaxed you can be, the better labor goes; and I’ve now had three 22 hour labors (and a 1 1/2 hour one…yikes!), so I can only imagine what would’ve happened had I been fighting the hospital staff the whole time to keep them from pushing things along.

      Folks saying that the kids will die or that we’re going to experience a rash of problematic births forget that a lot of knowledge we have now can still be put to use in a bad situation. Most diseases that kids used to die from are greatly ameliorated with proper understanding (let’s start with clean water and pasteurization techniques!). And any prepper not learning how to make colloidal silver is missing out on a huge medical benefit. I actually know someone currently dealing with the SHTF situation in Nicaruagua who is having to help a birthing mother who was scheduled for a routine C-section and is curing a terrible infection from a boat propeller accident with colloidal silver. She has been a great resource in learning what’s useful and what’s not recently.

  3. A.E.,

    Excellent! What a great topic and often overlooked subject matter.

    The power of a nurse’s tongue…it can work wonders or destruction (same goes for a doctor’s tongue).

    I look forward to part II.

  4. Great topic. If things change radically birth control will be an issue. When people are stressed they seek comfort with one another. There are tricks to help birthing moms. The book “Where there is no Doctor ” shares some of them . A home birth can be a good experience but having someone with training can and has spared lives. Having basic birthing equipment can save lives too.

    1. Look up Natural Family Planning. It can be used to avoid pregnancy, get pregnant, or space births. The only equipment needed is a thermometer.

      Condoms do not last well.

  5. Life on the homestead is full of birthing tutorials . We have helped on hundreds deliveries of every kind from cats to cattle. It will seldom surprise us anymore when something goes south . The reference to those that give suck and the pronouncement of woe would be inevitable in a large scale nuclear conflict . Radiation kills multiple times faster as age regresses . Those babies sucking would be the first to suffer devastating results from nuclear contamination . Us old guys would probably go on with life as normal . That is why after a long career in the power industry I am anti-nuclear . It is a curse that intensifies as the age of the victim is reduced .

  6. Remember a three strand cord is stronger than two. Having topics on child birth which the father can plug into is just as important. I’m not too keen on all this male bashing promoted through the public schools. They’re are good men/fathers out there and not all are bad as they can/will/want to plug in.

  7. Something everyone should have in their preps is a sterile disposable emergency birthing kit. You can find these online, google this and you can find single kits that range in price from $12 up to about $20. I have been a critical care nurse for 30 years (ICU or sometimes ER) but never in L&D. So I have really been researching this, as I have daughters of child bearing ages. I bought mine on amazon, I bought the Medline 6 pack for about $149.00 (currently now see they are $169.) I have no connection to Medline, but I have used many of their products over the years, and have used them to stock my supplies at home. I feel that they have a really good product. Secondly buy all the hard copy books you can on childbirth!

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