Cowplain mum, 41, delivers baby in 'rare birth' with no medical assistance after waiting for induction

A mum gave birth in ‘rare’ circumstances after a rapid labour meant health professionals couldn’t reach her home in time to deliver the baby.
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With no gas and air or pain relief, Angharad Woolley, who was due to be induced, gave birth to a healthy baby girl at home on August 20.

Overdue, at 40 weeks and four days pregnant, the 41-year-old from Cowplain had been waiting for a call from Queen Alexandra Hospital to take her in for an induction.

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But the mum-of-two was told a full maternity ward meant there were no beds to accommodate her.

Angharad, her mother-in-law and baby Esmae.Angharad, her mother-in-law and baby Esmae.
Angharad, her mother-in-law and baby Esmae.

Instead, she gave birth unassisted by midwives or doctors with her partner, Paul, and mother-in-law on hand to liaise with a midwife over the phone in extremely rare circumstances – labelled an ‘unassisted birth on arrival’.

The labour lasted for just over two hours after Angharad started having contractions at 2.37am.

‘I was scared,’ Angharad explained.

‘We couldn't get an induction. We were waiting another week until 42 weeks. We had to wait until she came along naturally.’

Baby Esmae arrived with no medical assistanceBaby Esmae arrived with no medical assistance
Baby Esmae arrived with no medical assistance
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Angharad awoke in the middle of the night in discomfort because she thought she needed to use the toilet.

But after realising it was in fact contractions, which were fast progressing, Paul rang the NHS Labour Line who asked Angharad to come to QA Hospital.

By this point it was 3.37am.

Mum Angharad Woolley and baby Esmae who was born at home without medical assistance. Picture: Mike Cooter (270822)Mum Angharad Woolley and baby Esmae who was born at home without medical assistance. Picture: Mike Cooter (270822)
Mum Angharad Woolley and baby Esmae who was born at home without medical assistance. Picture: Mike Cooter (270822)

Angharad’s partner, Paul, said: ‘We got her downstairs. We started to go out the door. By that time she walked out the door and two seconds later, she’s turning straight back in an saying, “it’s too late, it’s coming”.

‘She walks back in and my parents have arrived because they were looking after my son.

‘We were going to get in the car as soon as they arrived.

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‘They said they'd send an ambulance out as soon as they can get one free.’

Angharad Woolley, 41, who unexpectedly gave birth to baby Esmae at home, helped by husband Paul Woolley, 49 Picture: Mike Cooter (270822)Angharad Woolley, 41, who unexpectedly gave birth to baby Esmae at home, helped by husband Paul Woolley, 49 Picture: Mike Cooter (270822)
Angharad Woolley, 41, who unexpectedly gave birth to baby Esmae at home, helped by husband Paul Woolley, 49 Picture: Mike Cooter (270822)

Angharad added: ‘I thought the baby was going to arrive and fall on the concrete outside as we were getting in the car. I came straight back in.’

While Paul was on the phone to the midwife, he saw baby Esmae’s head ‘pop out’ while the family were in the living room.

The midwife on the phone, Vicky, then asked if the newborn was breathing or crying.

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Paul said: ‘[Esmae] sort of fell into my hands onto the pillow. My mum dived over and tried to grab her and give her to Aggie.’

Eighteen minutes later, the ambulance arrived, with crew in ‘disbelief’ that the baby had already been delivered.

After paramedics carried out health checks on Esmae, the family was taken to the postnatal ward at QA Hospital.

Paramedics with baby Esmae and Angharad Picture submitted by the familyParamedics with baby Esmae and Angharad Picture submitted by the family
Paramedics with baby Esmae and Angharad Picture submitted by the family

‘When she was wheeled in with the baby, the midwives couldn't believe it,’ Paul said.

‘We told them what happened.

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‘The lead midwife who was on that night said she'd been there for 22 years and she’d never experienced that.

‘We want to write a letter to South Central Ambulance Service to say thank you very much for what they did.’

Angharad spoke of her ‘relief’ on having Esmae in her arms after not knowing what was going to happen and when staff would be on scene.

‘I was so relieved. I just wanted her out and breathing because as you get older you read things about the risks.

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‘I knew in my head that I had to do what I had to do to get this little person out safely.’

What’s more, little Esmae, weighting 7lb and 8oz, arrived on what would have been Angie’s brother’s 70th birthday after he died during the pandemic.

Thirty-eight weeks pregnant with her son, Max, now two, the couple were unable to attend his funeral.

‘It’s like fate,’ Angharad said.

‘Forever more we're going to celebrate his birthday because Esmae shares her birthday with him.’

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Following the rare birth, a spokesperson at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust commented on its care of pregnant patients.

They said: ‘Pregnant people are asked to contact the Labour Line when they believe they are in labour.

‘The Labour Line covers the Hampshire area and will direct people to the nearest hospital that has a maternity bed available. Pregnant people will always be cared for at their nearest hospital where possible, but when there are occasions where a hospital is full, care may be provided at another hospital in the area and further travel may be required.

‘Whilst we do try to accommodate home births where possible, this is always dependent on being able to provide safe care at home and also in the hospital.

‘No pregnant people are turned away from maternity care.’