When your baby wants out, it’s not always where you planned. But, as this mum found, you can’t argue with nature
Sarah Marsh, 29, a full-time mum, lives in Sheffield with husband Will, 24, a steel worker. She’s mum to Jacob, three, and Lucy, one
‘When I was five days overdue, I was shopping with my sister when I noticed my bump tensing and releasing. It wasn’t painful but I decided it was safest to go home, where Will ran me a bath. As I lowered myself into the water, a powerful contraction flooded my body. Will dialled the hospital and the midwife said we could come in but, as things had only just started, we might be sent home again. Will helped me into my pyjamas, before coaxing our toddler Jacob into our car, so we could drop him off at my gran’s house.
‘After we dropped him off, we started for the hospital. But I was worried – my contractions were now 30 seconds apart, but the hospital was a 20-minute drive away. I hunched over, focusing on breathing, while Will drove, repeating “We’ll get there…” to keep me calm.
'My baby was coming whether I was ready or not'
‘But then, without warning, I had to push. I had no control – my baby was coming whether I was ready or not. I suddenly felt something shift, along with a gush of waters. “The head’s come out,” I yelled. Terrified that I’d squash the baby, I raised my pelvis off the seat. I couldn’t believe what was happening, but I just had to focus on delivering my child.
‘Will swerved into a lay-by just as another contraction engulfed me and the rest of the baby came out, landing in my pyjama leg. As Will ran round and opened the car door, there was a frightening hush – it felt like the world had stopped. Then, slowly, a squeaking broke the silence, followed by furious cries. I’d never felt such relief – our baby was safe and, I hoped, healthy. By now, Will had managed to get through to the emergency services and they told him to place the baby on my stomach, with the cord attached.
‘As I looked up, I saw a group of men peering at me. That’s when I realised we were at a bus stop in broad daylight. But I couldn’t have cared less. I’d delivered my own baby and felt jubilant. Anyway, my pyjama bottoms covered me. Then a packed bus pulled up beside us, and the passengers all started pointing.
‘“Congratulations,” one man said, and asked what I’d had. In all the drama, I hadn’t even realised I had a girl. Five minutes later, the paramedics arrived and told us we’d done everything right. As I stepped into the ambulance, I could sense people looking at us, but I’ve honestly never felt prouder.
‘I delivered the placenta en route to hospital, sirens blaring. There, Will cut the cord and the midwives confirmed we had a healthy 8lb 7oz girl. I never thought I’d give birth in a car, let alone at a bus stop. It’s embarrassing now to think of strangers witnessing such an intimate moment. But, at the time, all I felt was elation and pride at my beautiful baby.’
What I would tell my friends
Don’t think you know what to expect, even if you’ve given birth before. My first labour lasted nine and a half hours. I expected a similar experience second time round.
Make sure that whoever’s agreed to look after older siblings lives close by. You may need the extra minutes to get to hospital.
As your due date approaches, keep a few towels in the car to sit on. It could have saved us the money we spent having our car seats cleaned!