No matter how much you plan for a new baby, you’re bound to encounter a few surprises.
In the United States, 98.8 percent of births take place in hospital labor and delivery units, and about 0.3 percent of births take place in birth centers.
Of the remaining 0.9 percent, some women give birth at home, and a very small fraction of the remaining percentage give birth…well, pretty much wherever they’re standing when they go into labor.
That leads to some uncomfortable and amazing scenarios. For instance, mothers have given birth…
1. On a New York Sidewalk
Polly McCourt, 39, went into labor at home. Her doorman helped her hail a taxi, but a woman jumped in front of her and stole her cab.
The doorman “was trying desperately to hail a cab and a lady walked out five meters in front of him and hailed a cab and got into it,” McCourt told The Daily Mail.
“And I went ‘that’s my cab, I want that cab!”’
McCourt couldn’t wait for another ride. “I asked her what was wrong,” doorman Anton Rudovic recounted. “She said, ‘I’m having the baby! I’m having the baby right now!’ It happened so quickly, just like 1,2,3!”
She fell to the sidewalk, and several Good Samaritans stopped to help her. One woman gave McCourt her coat to cradle the baby; McCourt showed her appreciation by naming the infant after the kind stranger.
“She was meant to be Ila Polly,” McCourt explained, “but now she’s Ila Isabelle. We’re very happy with [the name].”
2. In an Ambulance Surrounded by 12 Lions
According to Indian news outlet NDTV, 32-year-old Manguben Makwana gave birth in an ambulance in the western Indian state of Gujarat. The ambulance was speeding toward the nearest hospital, but when Makwana began giving birth, the vehicle pulled over in a wildlife sanctuary.
“When the ambulance was on its way to Jafarabad with Makwana, the on-duty emergency management technician (EMT) Ashok Makwana realised that she would give birth anytime, as the head of the baby was protruding out,” said Chetan Gaadhe, the ambulance’s emergency management executive.
A curious pride of lions reportedly surrounded the ambulance while it was stopped.
“Though Jadav [the driver], who is a local and understood the behaviour of lions, tried to scare them away, the lions refused to budge,” said Gaadhe. “Some of them even sat in front of the vehicle, blocking its passage.”
The pride dispersed when the vehicle’s engine started, and both mother and child safely arrived at the nearby hospital.
Apparently, this wasn’t an unusual birth for Gaadhe.
“In some situations our staff has to walk for kilometres, as there is no road for the ambulance. The staff is well trained to tackle such situations,” he said.
3. In an Uber
Erica Davidovich was leaving a Whole Foods in Los Angeles when she realized that she was going into labor. She quickly called an Uber to take her to the hospital (yes, this is the most California story ever).
Sure, an ambulance might have been a less unusual choice. But 31-year-old Erica was already a mother of three, and her other children had taken hours to arrive.
“Usually for our other three girls, water breaks, it’s still another 6, 7, or 12 hours, so we thought we had time,” her husband, Niv, told Daily Mail. “This was the advice we had received from Erica’s doctor. He told us not to come to the hospital until she was in pain and having regular contractions.”
But as soon as the Uber started moving, she realized that the baby wasn’t going to wait. Fortunately, she quickly gave birth to a healthy baby boy, much to the relief of the nervous Uber driver.
“It was crazy! It was my last trip of the evening and it all happened so quickly. It felt like I was in a movie,” the driver told The Daily Mail.
“Erica was in a lot of pain and told me to pull over and call 911. We hadn’t gone very far down the road when I was told to stop the car. Within a minute of pulling over, her waters broke and the baby just slid right out! Niv, her husband, caught it!”
No word on what the Davidoviches tipped the driver, but he did bring the baby an Uber onesie.
4. On a Spirit Airlines Flight
Spirit Airlines is a budget airline that is known for charging extra for just about everything. Hey, if you’re going to offer cheap flights, you’ve got to make up the money somewhere. Cristina Penton found a way around one of the fees: She avoided paying for an extra ticket by waiting until her plane was en route to go into labor.
In fairness, she wasn’t actually trying to cheat the airline. At 36 weeks pregnant, she was weeks away from her due date, and she’d carried her two other children to full term.
“Within 10 to 15 minutes of takeoff, I began to feel like something was not fine,” she told reporters at a press conference.
Spirit crewmembers kept Penton calm, bringing her damp towels and bottled water (no, they didn’t charge her for the extras).
“Everything started happening very quickly,” Penton said. “I didn’t think I was having the baby because it was too soon, but after a few minutes, I knew I needed medical attention. The flight attendants contacted doctors on the ground and they advised the flight attendants to see if there were any medical personnel on board. As it turned out, there was a pediatrician and a nurse. Soon after that, it was clear I was having my baby, and I was in pure panic.”
The crew diverted the flight, but Penton gave birth to her son, Christoph Lezcano, while the plane was still in the air. Penton’s fellow passengers broke into applause when they heard the news.
“It was what he wanted,” Penton said of her son’s unusual birth. “We were all just along for the ride.”
5. In a Tree
When flood waters ravaged Mozambique in 2000, Carolina Chirindza and her family members climbed a tree to escape the crocodile-infested waters. Chirindza was heavily pregnant at the time, and she realized that she’d have to give birth while awaiting rescue.
“I was not prepared for this, but that’s what God wanted,” Chirindza said.
When rescuers came, they took pictures of the new mother and her baby, which spread through Western media. The press quickly propelled Chirindza to international stardom, which helped to gather donations to assist other families recover from the crisis. Seventeen years later, Chirindza and her daughter, Rosita Mabuiango, are doing well.
Chirindza says that the dramatic birth changed everything for her family.
“It changed my life, because now I have a house, I also have a job,” she said. She works as a cleaner, and thanks to a donation from the local municipality, she lives in her own three-bedroom house.
Rosita is also flourishing. She plays soccer at her Catholic school, and she wants to study petrochemical engineering. While she’s thankful for the circumstances of her birth, she doesn’t want them to define her.
“I’m normal,” the 17-year-old told The Guardian, “It’s just a different way of being born.”