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Ulster roadside delivery dad Paul Doherty had to use his shoelaces

By Cate McCurry

A father has revealed how he used his shoelaces to tie his new baby daughter's umbilical cord after his wife gave birth in the back of the family car.

Paul Doherty and his wife, Georgina, had a surprise arrival as they made their way to Altnagelvin hospital in Londonderry.

Baby Saphia was 13 days overdue and was not willing to wait until they got to hospital, instead making a speedy entrance en route.

After realising they had no more time, the father was forced to pull over to the side of the road.

Paul contacted emergency services, who talked the couple through the delivery.

It came just hours after Georgina began having labour pains on Saturday morning.

A few minutes after they started their journey at approximately 1.30pm, baby Saphia was born.

The couple, from Co Donegal, told how they had to use Paul's shoelaces to tie the umbilical cord and then wrap the baby in a coat to keep her warm.

Georgina said: "It all happened so fast. We thought we had time, but things happened so quickly.

"Paul managed to tie the umbilical cord using his shoelace and before we knew it the ambulance had arrived.

"We kept her warm with a coat we had in the car until the ambulance arrived a few minutes later.

"Paul was very relaxed about it all. I suppose he had no choice really and she came so quickly in the end."

The couple, who live close to the border, were taken to Altnagelvin Area Hospital, where baby Saphia was given a check-up and found to weigh a very healthy 7lb 2oz.

They were joined by their other three children, Jake, Teigan and Shay, as they visited their new sister in hospital just a few hours later.

Mother Georgina and baby Saphia were both discharged the next day with a perfect bill of health.

Georgina said everyone was doing fine and her other children now had a great story to tell their friends. "They all think it's great that they have a new sister and that she arrived so quickly," she added.

"Myself and Paul are just relieved that Saphia is healthy."

Surprised Dad Paul told the BBC he could not believe how quickly everything had happened.

"The next minute the baby was out, so I had to throw the phone down and catch her," he said.

"I gave her to Georgina and she started crying. Then they (emergency services) just said, 'Keep them both warm, we're going to get you to tie something round the umbilical cord'.

"I had to take off my shoelace - it was the only thing I had in the car."

Georgina added it was a "quick labour" and their little girl arrived at 2.40pm.

"We had just passed Bridgend, just over the Derry border, when I asked my husband to pull in to the side of the road. I just knew I wasn't going to make it. I said, 'I think the baby's coming, I can feel the head coming'."

Mr Doherty said he "took her word" for it and then stopped the car.

"By the time I got out of the driver's seat and got round to the passenger seat the head was actually out in view," he added.

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