Giving birth thousands of feet in the air, travelling on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Manila, wouldn’t be an ideal labour situation for many women. Giving birth in the airplane’s toilet? Even worse.
But that’s what happened to a 35-year-old woman late last month. ‘Nedz’, as she’s known to the media, was 27 weeks pregnant when she and her husband travelled from their jobs in Dubai to their native home in the Philippines to prepare for the arrival of their first child.
A nurse, who was coincidentally seated next to Nedz, said she noticed that the woman had seemed in distress before entering the toilet.
“When I saw the mother walking toward the toilet, she seemed to be in pain,” Karen Caballes-Santos, a licenced Philippines nurse, told Gulf News.
“The father was restless, walking back and forth, nearly in tears, so I offered to help.”
I told the mother, ‘Your baby is alive, don’t worry.’ That’s when she and her husband calmed a little
When Caballes-Santos entered the toilet Nedz had delivered the infant, with the baby boy turning bluish in colour “due to a lack of oxygen”. She and another nurse on board cleared amniotic fluid from his nose and mouth, potentially saving his life.
“I told the mother, ‘Your baby is alive, don’t worry.’ That’s when [she and her husband] calmed a little.”
Nurses and flight attendants cleaned the baby with blankets then kept him warm using LED reading lamps as the plane was diverted for an emergency landing in Vietnam.
The family were taken to hospital, where the baby is still in neonatal intensive care.
The couple have named their son EK – the Emirates airline code – in honour of the surprise birth.
Many airlines impose restrictions on women flying during pregnancy, with a cut-off date of 35 weeks for a single pregnancy and 32 weeks for those carrying multiples.