Dramatic birth of baby girl born in a lift

Mum Nichola McCarthy raced down the hospital corridor but couldn't make it to the maternity ward on time

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Talk about a dramatic birth story – a 29-year-old mum has given birth to her baby in a lift. Not only that, a passing healthcare assistant caught the emerging baby and wrapped her in her coat. And guess what dad does – he’s a former lift engineer. 

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So on to the amazing story: Nichola McCarthy, 29, started going into labour at home around 10pm. Things progressed quickly and her husband Jim, 32, rushed her to Southend Hospital in Essex.

But the moment they arrived, Nichola’s waters broke and she felt her baby girl’s head “coming out”. While her husband ran to find a wheelchair, Nichola waited in the car “trying to hold her head in”.

After what seemed like an age to Nichola (we bet!), her husband returned and they rushed into the hospital. “We were running down the corridor and I was shouting ‘the head’s coming’ and I was holding her head,” she told The Echo newspaper.

The couple were only just in the lift as the baby started to arrive – but luckily Marta Szcepaniak, a healthcare assistant in the nearby stroke unit was on hand to help deliver her. “This woman came from nowhere and caught the baby and wrapped her in her coat,” Nichola said. “She had heard me screaming and came off her break to help. The baby just shot out, but Marta was a hero, she was my guardian angel.”

“It’s the first time I’ve ever delivered a baby and feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to help,” Marta told The Echo. “The baby was then here and crying and I just made sure I kept her warm until the lift arrived.”

Baby Layla was born a healthy 7lb 8oz in the early hours of Saturday, January 3 – and is now safely back at home with her family. “Every day before and after my shift I would go and see them while they were in the hospital and even got to hold the baby girl again,” Marta said. “I was really only doing my job.”

The couple, who also have a 3-year-old daughter, considered naming their newborn baby after the lift she was born in. “Jim said we should call her Ellie after the elevator and then went to see the brand of the lift and it was an Abbey lift so we thought about that for a while,” explained Nichola, “but we settled on Layla.”

Photo: Facebook / Nichola McCarthy

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