A Walsall midwife ended up having a dramatic end to her holiday when a passenger went into labour on the plane journey home and she stepped in to try and stop the premature baby being born mid-air.
Angela Chamberlain, who has worked at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust for seven years, had been to Tenerife with husband Russ when the flight home took a twist.
“It really was like something out of a film when the call went out for someone who was medically trained,” said Angela. “I didn’t do anything at first as I wasn’t sure what type of emergency it was; when it became clear a midwife was needed I obviously went to see what I could do.”
Angela discovered fellow passenger Lauren McLean had gone into labour – ten weeks early.
“I remember taking a few seconds to block everyone and everything out, get out of holiday mode and compose myself to help Lauren,” she said. “I was so concerned that she didn’t give birth on the plane because of her baby being premature. She needed to get to a hospital and I needed to keep the baby where he was.”
“I could feel the baby’s head and knew Lauren was fully dilated. I taught her how to breathe through her contractions and as she lay on the floor I took her weight as she tilted her pelvis backwards so gravity might help to keep the baby in.”
The flight was diverted to Faro in Portugal where Lauren and her partner Jake were taken to hospital. Baby Oscar arrived weighing 3 pounds and 7 ounces, just 15 minutes after the couple landed in Portugal.
They have been full of praise for mother-of-three Angela’s involvement calling her their “saviour” and have kept in touch with her.
“It all feels a bit surreal as this happened in March, before COVID-19 became a pandemic, and I’ve just been getting on with things really,” said Angela.
“But it has been lovely to receive updates from Lauren and her family. Oscar’s grandfather even sends me little claps on a Thursday evening during Clap for Carers which is really special. I also love seeing pictures of Oscar thriving as in my role I don’t very often get to see babies’ progress.”
“I am proud of the fact I could help but did feel quite traumatised afterwards because you can’t help but think of all the things that could have gone wrong, with the added pressure of being thousands of feet up in the air. Now I’ve got to get used to all my colleagues talking about it as they’ve seen me on the front of the Birmingham Mail!
“I didn’t tell anyone about it at work because this was Lauren’s story to tell, not mine, but I am obviously really pleased it’s got such a happy ending. It will be lovely to finally meet her and Oscar once it is safe to do so.”