Giving birth inside an aircraft is not ideal—it’s safer on the ground where extra help can be summoned in case of complications—but sometimes nature intervenes, as RFDS Flight Nurse Chris Minchell found out recently.
Chris was called to Cobar when first time mum Tegan Howison went into early labour.
“We had been planning to drive to the maternity hospital in Dubbo, which is about three hours away,” says Tegan. The unexpected onset of labour put paid to those plans.
It was only a 45-minute flight to Dubbo but Tegan raced through labour faster than anyone had anticipated.
To make matters worse, neither she nor her partner had been able to attend any ante-natal classes.
“I was quite scared but the flight nurse was really good,” says Tegan.
Chris calmed the anxious Tegan, reassured worried dad Terry, gave them both a thorough explanation of what to expect and told the pilot she wouldn’t be strapped in for landing.
RFDS pilot Capt. Brett Croker kept the aircraft on a steady course and Chris delivered a beautiful baby girl just as the plane touched down.
“Brett’s landing was so perfect I didn’t even know we were on the ground until I saw buildings pass by the plane window,” says Chris. “In the end it was a completely natural, calm birth, with no problems at all.”
Tegan is overjoyed at being a first time mum.
“I want to thank the Flying Doctor for all their help, they were so good,” she says, holding her partner’s hand and smiling at their beautiful daughter Sahara, born in the skies above the Dubbo RFDS Base.