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‘I Had My Son Outside Waitrose’: One Mum's Story Of Her Surprise Labour

When your baby wants out, it's not always where you planned. But, as this mum found, you can't argue with nature

Daphne Bolus, 30, a teacher, lives in London with husband Tim, 28, a minister. She’s mum to Ethan, three, and Matthew, one

‘When my waters broke at 38 weeks, we went to hospital but were told to return when my contractions were stronger. We were meeting Tim’s aunt for dinner, so my sister-in-law drove us to Canary Wharf shopping mall in London. There, my contractions became stronger, so we decided to head back to hospital with Tim’s aunt and sister, popping into Waitrose on the way to buy snacks.

‘I waited outside and, while they were in the supermarket, I was suddenly hit by the need to push. Sweating, scared and feeling huge pressure down below, I leant on a post. Tim scanned the rush hour crowds for help and beckoned a security guard wearing a Canary Wharf badge. As the situation dawned on the man, his smile faded. Four other security guards joined him, and one called an ambulance. Waitrose staff carried out duvets and pillows and piled them on the floor. In my confusion, I wondered how we’d pay for them all.

‘As screens were wheeled over, and I was told the ambulance was stuck in traffic and could be 30 minutes away, reality hit me – I was having my baby right here, right now. Tim held my hand as his shocked sister and aunt ran over. The guards had their phones out. “Just pick a website,” I heard one say. To my horror, I realised they were Googling how to deliver a baby.

'The male guards stepped outside the makeshift shelter while three female guards whipped off my trousers and underwear, covering me with a blanket. By now, there was enormous pain and pressure, and I just knew it was time to push. My body told me what to do. I didn’t care where I was – all I felt was determination to get my baby out.

‘“I can see the head,” one guard shouted. Then, with four big pushes, the baby slipped into her waiting hands. It was a boy. As he started to cry, relief flooded through me. It was over and my baby was OK. I looked around and saw everyone was crying but me. I was just grateful it was over!

‘A nurse who’d been shopping joined us. She put Matthew on my chest and helped deliver the placenta, expertly clamping and cutting the cord with surgical string from Boots. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for what everyone had done for us. Then the paramedics arrived and took us to hospital, where I had a few stitches and stayed overnight.

‘Three weeks later, we went back to the mall to thank the staff and security team. They gave us some shopping vouchers and told us we could keep the bedding. I’d never have chosen to have a baby in this way, but I’m happy I was in such good hands.’

What I would tell my friends

If you’re sent away from hospital in early labour, don’t venture too far, especially at busy times of the day. I really should have stayed within walking distance of the ward.

If you’re in a situation where you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. In my experience, people are only too happy to lend a hand.

Pure almond oil keeps Matthew’s skin soft in the cold weather. I just put a few drops on cotton wool and rub it over him.

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