Mum 'too preoccupied' giving birth to notice earthquake

Alison Mountney and Craig Flynn with their 'quake baby', Harriet.
Alison Mountney and Craig Flynn with their 'quake baby', Harriet.  Photo: Robyn Edie/FFX NZ

A baby had a rocky start to life on Monday, with her mother labouring during an earthquake which rattled New Zealand.

Winton woman Alison Mountney gave birth to 4.1kg Harriet Ila Flynn at Southland Hospital at 1.15am on Monday, about 70 minutes after the big earthquake rocked the upper South and lower North Islands.

The quake was certainly felt by midwives and Mountney's partner Craig Flynn while she was in labour soon after midnight.

"Ali was in labour and a midwife came flying in and said, 'what's going on, there's an earthquake!'" Flynn said.

"She was ... squeezing and pushing at the time."

The earthquake was a "fairly good shake" and Flynn believed it continued for about three minutes.

Mountney said she was "on the bed with my legs in the air" and the drip in the room was swinging, but she was too preoccupied to notice the earthquake.

She had been in no position to seek shelter under a doorway at the time.

Harriet was born about 70 minutes after the quake, apparently suffering no ill effects from the shaking.


"No whiplash," her mother joked.

​The earthquake had added something extra to the experience of giving birth and was something Harriet would be told about when she got older.

Flynn said he was impressed with the emergency procedures the hospital had in place.

Hospital staff gave the couple regular updates and informed them of the procedures if a tsunami warning was given.

"The evacuation plan was to go upstairs," he said.

Southern District Health Board chief operating officer Lexie O'Shea said they ​had extensive plans in place to deal with emergency situations such as the earthquake and tsunami warning on Monday.

Southland Hospital, constructed 13 years ago, had an an A+ seismic rating, O'Shea said.

The Southland Times