A woman got the shock of her life when, unaware she was pregnant, she began giving birth at home, becoming a mum 48 minutes later.

The astonished woman, who is not being identified, called 999 when she was presented with the baby being born feet first - known as a breech birth - which has higher rates of complications.

The East of England Ambulance Service's (EEAST) critical care desk dispatched the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT), with the land and air teams, as well as a community midwife, arranging to meet at a rendezvous point on the way to hospital, so the woman could be seen quicker by the critical care team.

Once at the rendezvous point, the team helped free the baby’s other foot and rotated the baby’s hips to aid the descent.


Just 48 minutes after the initial 999 call, the baby was delivered in an ambulance at the side of a road and given ventilatory support until it was breathing on its own.

Mother and baby were then transported to the nearest neonatal intensive care unit.

Dr Graham Pluck, a pre-hospital care doctor at EHAAT, explained: "On arrival, we were reassured to find a well-coordinated and expertly managed scene by the EEAST crews, who had arrived first.

"We were also very grateful for specialist support by phone from the maternity unit for advanced techniques in delivering an obstructed footling breech baby.

"Subsequent post-partum care and neonatal resuscitation was a whole team effort from everyone on scene and we were very happy we could contribute to a good outcome for the baby and mother."

Royston Crow: The emergency workers have won a national award for their response to the 999 call.The emergency workers have won a national award for their response to the 999 call. (Image: East of England Ambulance Service)


Crews from EEAST and EHAAT have now received an award at the UK MUM (Maternity Unit Marvels) Awards for their response.

Daimon Wheddon, clinical lead for maternity services at EEAST, said: "This example of exemplary care has rightly been held up and shared as best practice for dealing with a complex birth in the community.

"The teamwork, quick escalation and decision making ensured the mother and baby got specialist support as quickly as possible, which led to the good outcome."

The award ceremony, organised by the UK’s leading maternity safety charity Baby Lifeline, was held at The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London. It followed a private reception at Downing Street for those nominated.