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Mike Tindall is not the only dad left reeling by a VERY sudden arrival 

Zara Tindall and her husband Mike announced the birth of son Lucas yesterday. In his podcast, Mike said the baby — great-grandson of the Queen — arrived so quickly on Sunday he was born on their bathroom floor.

He described the panic of trying to find something soft for his new son to land on: ‘It was running to the gym, get a mat, get into the bathroom, get the mat on the floor, towels down, brace, brace, brace.’

Countdown’s Rachel Riley gave birth to daughter Maven in the bathroom in 2019, with husband Pasha Kovalev close by.

Two per cent of babies are born at home, yet many NHS trusts have turned down requests for home births during the pandemic. But nobody told these babies – who also made surprise appearances. Thankfully, like Mike Tindall, their proud fathers were on standby to help. Here they tell JILL FOSTER about their express deliveries…

Zara Tindall and her husband Mike (pictured) announced the birth of son Lucas yesterday. In his podcast, Mike said the baby — great-grandson of the Queen — arrived so quickly on Sunday he was born on their bathroom floor

We were in our tiny bathroom — it was like playing twister 

Maths teachers James Hunter, 30, and wife Emily, 31, live with daughters Gracie, three, and Orla, six months, in West Yorkshire. James says:

Five days after Orla was due, I woke up around midnight hearing funny sounds from Emily in the bathroom and recognised them from her first labour with Gracie three years ago.

Perhaps Emily was in denial but, like that first time, she said she wasn’t in labour. However, moments later she sat on the toilet and her waters broke and we could see Orla’s head appearing.

I needed to get her to hospital, but Emily said there wasn’t time. My first thought was Gracie. We didn’t want to scare her and when she appeared to find out what the noise was, Emily had to hide behind the door. I shuffled her away.

What happened next is all a bit of a blur. I rang my in-laws and when my father-in-law picked up wondering what was going on in the middle of the night, I joked that I was ringing him up to arrange to go on a bike ride.

Maths teachers James Hunter, 30, and wife Emily, 31, live with daughters Gracie, three, and Orla, six months, in West Yorkshire

Maths teachers James Hunter, 30, and wife Emily, 31, live with daughters Gracie, three, and Orla, six months, in West Yorkshire

I really didn’t think the baby would arrive so quickly. By the time they got here ten minutes later, the baby was almost out.

We have quite a small bathroom and trying to deliver the baby was like a game of Twister with Emily on all fours on the tiles and me standing over her with one foot in the bath and one foot out. We’d just redecorated with new carpets and rugs and we were both very concerned about the mess.

After only a few minutes, Orla appeared and — following the advice from the paramedics who were on the phone on speaker — I caught her in a towel from where I was standing behind Emily. It was an incredible moment but I didn’t know what to do next.

The lady said to pass her to Emily and that’s where I made a mistake, trying to pass her around Emily’s leg and not through her legs because she was still attached to the umbilical cord.

But, within seconds, I’d passed her to Emily and she began to feed. It felt like ages until the paramedics arrived. I kept running out to see if they were there.

When they eventually did arrive, the paramedic was walking down the street and I was shouting: ‘The baby’s already here!’ That’s when they started rushing towards us.

Emily and the baby were put in an ambulance and I followed in the car. We were only there for six or so hours. Emily was not fazed by it at all.

It seems completely mad that I delivered my own daughter in our bathroom. I’m not particularly squeamish, although I’m glad I was not a first-time father or it might be a different story.

I’ve set up an email address for both our girls and send them emails and stories about their lives so this was the first story that I sent to Orla — that Daddy was the first one to catch her when she was born.

EMILY SAYS: If we hadn’t been in a pandemic, I would have liked a home birth — but not quite like this. I expected Orla’s birth to be quick, but not this quick!

But when the time came, there was nothing stopping Orla from coming out and James was so supportive and did everything he was told by the paramedic.

I can’t say he was as calm as me and I was the one giving birth, but I’m proud of him — I’m proud of both of us that night.

My car looked like a murder scene  

Ash Luke, 36, works in construction. He lives with wife Laura, 34, a community support worker, and daughters Isla, four, and Hollie, 14 weeks, in Shropshire. Ash delivered Hollie on New Year’s Eve. He says:

When you’re on a building site, people are always throwing tools for you to catch so that was probably good practice for what happened when my wife gave birth. It was so fast, I didn’t have time to think. One minute we were driving to the hospital at around 6am with Laura in the passenger seat, her contractions about eight minutes apart.

A mile later, she’s saying: ‘I’ve got to push!’ The plan had always been to drive to the hospital but everything happened so quickly.

I pulled over in the driveway of a local farm, snow on the ground around us. Laura opened her car door and I opened mine while fumbling for my phone to ring for the ambulance. I still didn’t believe she would give birth there and then, but, as I was talking to the paramedics, I heard Laura shout. I raced to her side only to realise the baby was out and falling to the ground. 

Ash Luke, 36, works in construction. He lives with wife Laura, 34, a community support worker, and daughters Isla, four, and Hollie, 14 weeks, in Shropshire

Ash Luke, 36, works in construction. He lives with wife Laura, 34, a community support worker, and daughters Isla, four, and Hollie, 14 weeks, in Shropshire

I dived towards Laura’s feet and caught the baby’s head with my right hand and her body with my left. I dread to think what would have happened if the baby had hit the ground. She was so slippery and the only light we had was moonlight. I’d dropped my phone so didn’t have a torch.

Laura told me to wipe its face and mouth — which I did — and immediately it started crying. Such a relief. I turned on all the heaters as Laura put the baby close to her skin and I could see we’d had a little girl. My main concern was that I needed to make sure she was warm as it was about minus 4c.

The ambulance arrived 30 minutes later and took Laura and Hollie to hospital. I headed off in front of them. The car looked like a murder scene. But I felt strangely calm as I drove, quite stunned by it all.

When we reached the hospital, Laura and Hollie were taken in and I was allowed in, too. We even got some tea and toast and were home again by midday! It was only afterwards that I went through all the ‘what ifs’ about the birth. My mates tease me that I’m a midwife as well as a builder, but I’m pretty proud of all three of us that night — and it’s a great story to be able to tell Hollie when she’s older.

LAURA SAYS: I never expected Holly to arrive so quickly because my daughter Isla’s birth had been nothing like that. But my body was telling me to push and there was nothing I could do about it.

Ash is so laidback and, because I was calm about everything, I think that helped him stay calm on the night. He did so well.

Afterwards, my health visitors asked me if I thought he needed counselling because some fathers who deliver their babies can be traumatised. But Ash is pretty chilled.

It was an incredibly intense experience but, if anything, it was better than my previous hospital birth. It was all natural and so quick that I’d even do it again!

I lit candles and filled the birthing pool, then I saw the baby was coming

Matt Hirst, 33, works for a joinery business. He lives in Holmfirth, West Yorks, with wife Jennie, 32, who is in marketing, and daughters Ava, two, and Mia, eight weeks. Matt says:

Two years ago, I was at our eldest daughter Ava’s hospital birth. It was quite traumatic because it was a two-and-a-half-day labour and Jennie needed an episiotomy (incision). In comparison, Mia’s birth was quick and weirdly peaceful.

The day after her due date we sent Ava to her grandparents. We’d planned a home birth with midwives present and hired a birthing pool. Jen arranged a virtual hypnobirthing refresher session so we were feeling pretty confident and relaxed about it.

At 1am on January 22, Jennie woke with strong contractions. This was it. I ran her a bath, lit candles and went to blow up the pool.

Jennie’s contraction-tracker app told us to ring the midwife.

Matt Hirst, 33, works for a joinery business. He lives in Holmfirth, West Yorks, with wife Jennie, 32, who is in marketing, and daughters Ava, two, and Mia, eight weeks

Matt Hirst, 33, works for a joinery business. He lives in Holmfirth, West Yorks, with wife Jennie, 32, who is in marketing, and daughters Ava, two, and Mia, eight weeks

They said they were 40 minutes away and we thought we had loads of time. But while I was about to fill up the pool, Jennie had an overwhelming contraction.

I could see her belly moving down. This baby was on its way out and there was no stopping it.

I rang the midwife back who told us to either get Jennie out of the bath or make sure the baby was born completely under water. It couldn’t be half in and half out because the baby could drown.

There was no way Jennie was getting out of the bath. The midwife asked me to look for the head and suddenly it was there. One more push from Jennie and I could see the baby’s shoulders emerge. Jennie shouted: ‘Pull her out!’

I held the baby, then passed her to Jennie. Thankfully she started crying straight away. It was an incredible moment.

Before we knew it, the house was full with paramedics and midwives checking them both over. Mia was a healthy 8 lb and I cut the cord. The midwife asked what time the baby was born — neither of us had a clue.

Then we heard the other midwife on the speaker phone shout: 2:52am! She must have heard the baby cry down the line and made a note of the time.

By 5am, Jennie and I were in bed having champagne and chocolates and looking at each other as if to say: ‘Did that really happen?’ Mates have said they’d be too squeamish to deliver a baby, but you just do what you’ve got to do. It was an unforgettable experience.

JENNIE SAYS: Matt stayed calm throughout, because there was no time to panic. He was so supportive, keeping me focused on my breathing. People have said he is a hero; I want to add it was me who gave birth, in a bath with no pain relief!

The pandemic had changed the experience of this pregnancy for both of us due to all the restrictions. Matt had only been allowed in the hospital for 30 seconds at each scan and I was adamant I didn’t want to give birth in hospital just in case he wasn’t allowed to be with me.

The fact we went through this together in our own bathroom was incredibly intense, but so special and an amazing story for us to share when people can finally come and cuddle Mia.

It’s the most petrifying thing I have ever done 

Jake Taylor, 23, works in road construction. He lives with partner Tia Guille, 22, a sales assistant and their children Nellie, three, and Henry, ten months, in Grantham, Lincs. Jake says:

Driving to the hospital with Tia screaming that she needed to push was one of the most petrifying things I’ve ever experienced. Tia had been having contractions since 1am, but hadn’t woken me because she said ‘I’d just annoy her!’

But when I did wake up at 4am, we decided to ring her dad to take us to the hospital as I don’t drive.

She got in the passenger seat and I was in the back but, within minutes, Tia had to push. I was saying, ‘No, wait! We’re going to be there soon’, as it was only about half an hour away. I really didn’t want her having a baby on the side of the A1.

But the baby was on its way and I remember saying to Tia to pull her trousers down while still trying to cover her up because her dad was sitting right next to her.

Jake Taylor, 23, works in road construction. He lives with partner Tia Guille, 22, a sales assistant and their children Nellie, three, and Henry, ten months, in Grantham, Lincs

Jake Taylor, 23, works in road construction. He lives with partner Tia Guille, 22, a sales assistant and their children Nellie, three, and Henry, ten months, in Grantham, Lincs

I didn’t want the baby to fall into the footwell so somehow leaned over the seat and tried to hold its head.

As we arrived at the hospital I jumped out of the car, just in time to catch my son as he came out. It was amazing.

I wrapped him in Tia’s dressing gown and I heard Tia’s dad scream for midwives.

Suddenly there was a team of people around us, helping us get Tia into a wheelchair. It was at that point I finally felt calm. I’d be running on adrenalin for the entire journey, my legs were shaking, but once the medics were around us, I felt safe.

I feel so proud. Tia’s dad can’t stop talking about it and even though the white leather seats of his car were covered in blood, he says he doesn’t care and he’s never going to get rid of that car.

Not many grandads can say they were at the birth. We were a great team.

TIA SAYS: My home birth was cancelled due to the pandemic but I never dreamed I’d give birth like this! I was two days overdue when my contractions started and, at one point, I was begging the hospital to let me come in.

Jake was in a panic, rushing around and trying to get my bags sorted and rubbing my back, but I kept telling him to get off me! I remember Jake telling me not to push as we drove, but nature had taken over.

I don’t know how he managed to get from the back seat to the front so quickly and catch the baby, but he did. It was petrifying, but everyone did well.

I went from being told I couldn’t have one birthing partner during the pandemic to having two — my partner and my dad!


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