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Woman gives birth on the No27 bus on the way to Truro

Woman gives birth on the No27 bus on the way to Truro

A drama teacher who helped safely deliver a baby on a rural bus said she used all the medical knowledge she had learned from watching the TV show Casualty.

The real-life drama unfolded when a young mother suddenly went into labour on her way to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro on Tuesday morning.

Susan Lay, 41, a freelance actor and youth theatre teacher, was sat on the top deck when the driver suddenly stopped the number 27 by a row of cottages 20 minutes outside of the city.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“The bus driver was outside on the phone,” Ms Lay told The Independent. “The mother looked like she was in some distress but I couldn’t tell she was pregnant until she rubbed her stomach.”

The driver told passengers another bus was coming behind to pick them up as a passenger had gone into labour.

“I must admit I thought about doing the British thing and not interfering”, Ms Lay said. “But I went up to the bus driver and said ‘Look I’m not medically trained in the slightest but do you need any help?’

“So I approached the young woman and introduced myself, I said she could squeeze my hand or lean on me. I started to comfort her and told her to breathe. She kept saying ‘I can’t, I can’t’ and I said ‘I know how that’s how you feel but you can and you are doing it’.

TV show Casualty helped inspired the amateur midwife (PA)
TV show Casualty helped inspired the amateur midwife (PA)

“I did what I could to help with the very limited knowledge I have,” the teacher continued. “I sort of channelled every film I ever watched or every episode of Casualty I have seen. It did come in handy after all.

“We moved inside the bus but her body was doing all of the work. Nature was taking its course.”

Ms Lay said the ambulance seemed to take a long time as the bus driver got instructions from paramedics on the phone and tried to direct them to their location.

“My maternal instinct just took over,” she said. “I thought I could give her support and the ambulance would arrive and that would be it, but I didn’t imagine I would be the one catching the baby. She was standing up and I caught it.

“I was so aware of how small the baby was. It was a feeling of being honoured to be there at the very first beginnings of life and then holding that in my hands was so incredible.

“I was watching him like a hawk because he was so tiny and I know nothing of delivering a baby. I was looking at him just willing him to be ok, checking his breathing and his eyes were opening.

“I thought if I took my eyes off him for a second something would change. They both seemed healthy if not shocked.

“A lady came out with towels and she wrapped him up. The bus driver was brilliant; the thing he was concerned about was her dignity. He was coordinating everyone, getting buses diverted and getting the ambulance there.”

The pregnant mother was on her way to Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro when the baby crowned (PA Archive)
The pregnant mother was on her way to Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro when the baby crowned (PA Archive)

Ms Lay said paramedics helped guide the birth over the phone, before the new mother’s stepmother arrived on the scene.

“Then an ambulance came and then the helicopter and then another ambulance. I left the umbilical cord to them,” she added.

The actress and filmmaker hailed the strength of the young mother who was taken to hospital in an ambulance.

“I think she’s amazing and I wish her love and luck and I was glad to be able to help and be there for her in that moment,” she said. “To be able to do that without pain relief was truly incredible.

“It’s a bus journey I will remember for a long time. It was incredible to witness that moment as intense and terrifying as it was.”

Ms Lay was slightly late to work at the Hall for Cornwall theatre when someone told her she had blood on her shoulder. Quickly her colleagues made her a cup of tea, brought her a change of jumper and offered her a shower in the changing rooms.

She added: “It’s just a massive relief that everything went ok.”

A spokesperson for the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) said: “We were called at 8.38am on Tuesday 5 March to an incident near Truro.

“We sent two double-crewed land ambulances and an air ambulance and conveyed a patient by land ambulance to Royal Cornwall Hospital.”