After I wrote about the astounding frequency of roadside births last week, I heard from someone you could safely describe as an expert on the subject.
Jennifer Slater delivered a baby in the backseat of her Jeep while her husband raced toward the hospital on Highway 75 in Kennesaw, Georgia back in 1990.
“Because my baby didn’t start crying when he delivered, the terror we experienced until I could get him to start breathing is what inspired me to research this topic hoping to help other parents and babies,” Slater wrote in an email to me.
Slater is the author of En Route Baby: What To Do When Baby Arrives Before Help Does, published last month. Her mission is to teach parents what to do to safely deliver babies before first responders can meet them (on, say, a highway), but the book also includes true stories of “ridiculously fast labor.” She interviewed more than 50 moms and dads who had to deliver babies on their own.
If, however, you’re looking for their anecdotes to help shine a light on what may lead up to super fast labor — and help you avoid crowning on an interstate — you may be disappointed.
“Unfortunately the results I came up with only re-fueled my commitment to train other parents, because when it came to similarities, there were none,” Slater said. “…The morale of all my research and interviewing is that there is no warning for an incredibly fast childbirth, which is even more reason that people need to know how to deliver a baby if they had to (so they should) talk to their doctor or read my book.”
The number of roadside births is apparently on the rise. Earlier this year, an NBC News affiliate in Washington D.C. reviewed CDC birth records and local birth records and found that the number of babies born outside homes, hospitals, and clinics jumped nearly 20 percent since 2009.
In my blog post last week, I posited that long-distance drives to hospitals may be to blame for highway baby boom, while some suggest it’s a problem of traffic congestion. Slater said it’s neither.
“Many of the women I’ve spoken to, myself included, had their baby less than 30 minutes after their very first contraction so it’s obviously not the length of time it takes to reach the hospital,” she said.
Slater promises she’ll continue researching the trend to figure out what’s really behind it.
“There’s no way I would be satisfied to just write a book and then drop it,” she said. “(T)his issue is really important to me and I’m determined to learn as much as I can about it.”