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Co Down mum Sara Johnston glad to give birth in 'isolation' as husband delivers baby by roadside in Northern Ireland


Sara and Chris Johnston with baby Quinn

Sara and Chris Johnston with baby Quinn

Sara and Chris Johnston with baby Quinn

Co Down mum Sara Johnston never thought she would be grateful for lockdown until she was forced to give birth at the side of the road during what would normally have been early morning rush hour.

Instead there was relative quiet when Sara's alarmed husband Chris had to stop the car en route to the hospital because their new daughter Quinn was on her way.

The couple had just left their home in Maralin at 7.15am last Tuesday for Craigavon Hospital when Sara realised her baby was coming.

Chris pulled in to the side of the road and dialled for an ambulance and was grateful when the operator stayed on the line and talked him through the delivery of his new daughter.

Sara (32), a part-time barmaid, and Chris (33), an engineer, also have two-year-old daughter Erin.

Describing her shock at how quickly the new arrival came into the world, Sara said: "I was 38 weeks and four days and I started to have pains around 11pm on the Monday night.

"There was no pattern to the pain so I waited until 3am and rang the hospital, who said they thought I was okay for another while.

"We have a two-year-old at home and had planned that when I went into labour my mum, who had been in isolation for four weeks, would come and look after her while we went to the hospital.

"By 6am I realised it was time to ring mum and she lives in Ardglass, so it took her a while to get here."

"My waters broke shortly after mum arrived at 7.15am and we left immediately for the hospital.

"We were just two minutes up the road when I needed to push.

"Chris pulled the car in and phoned 999 and a lady on the phone talked him through what to do."

With her legs outside of the car and sitting on the passenger seat, a distressed Sara gave birth to her daughter in the middle of Dollingstown village.

Chris helped bring their little girl into the world and then carefully tied the umbilical cord with his shoe laces as advised by the emergency services operator.

The stunned couple nursed their little girl for seven minutes until an ambulance arrived.

Sara said: "I was half in and half out of the car and my husband had to take my trousers off.

"If it hadn't been for lockdown there would have been quite an audience at that time of the morning. We parked the car at 7.20am and the baby was born at 8.40am.

"We were both shaken and the lady on the phone did try and keep Chris calm and talked him throughout everything.

"She was quite a big baby at 8lb 2.5oz and when the head and the shoulders came out I was screaming at him to pull her out.

"She came out and he threw her up on my stomach and it was such a relief. I never wanted to be in hospital as much in my life.

"I was in shock and shaking a lot. The lady on the phone then told Chris to tie the umbilical cord with his shoe laces."

When the ambulance arrived a still stunned Chris followed his wife and new baby to nearby Craigavon Hospital.

Mother and baby were both checked but, while Chris had to leave and go home because of current Covid-19 regulations; it wasn't long before his wife and daughter followed.

Sara added: "I only stayed in hospital until 4pm that day. If they can keep people out of hospital at the moment they will.

"I wouldn't recommend giving birth in a car.

"I know it is a pandemic and people are freaking out, but strangely when I did give birth all that went out the window and I had this lovely sense of bliss, even though I was half-naked sitting on the side of the road."

Belfast Telegraph