A mother today claimed that she had to give birth on her sofa because her local hospital was too full.
Eilish McKinney, of Nassington, Northamptonshire, had planned to go to an NHS facility in Peterborough when her waters broke on September 20.
But she and her fiance Tom Blackman, a commercial sales associate, were told its maternity unit was full when they phoned Peterborough City Hospital.
The couple, who have a two-year-old son called Monty, were told to wait for medics to call back with a plan.
After 40 minutes, they were instructed to travel 35 miles (56km) to nearby Leicester Hospital, in a journey that would have taken around an hour.
Miss McKinney was trying not to push at this point and the couple decided to go for an impromptu home birth without the help of a midwife or drugs. ‘She did this with two paracetamol’, Mr Blackman said.
Despite facing ‘sheer panic’, their son Persy — short for Perseus — was born safe and well at the home.
Eilish McKinney (pictured with her first son Monty, two), from Nassington, Northamptonshire, was forced to give birth on her sofa with just two paracetamol because her local NHS hospital was too full
Miss McKinney had planned to go to Peterborough City Hospital (pictured) when her waters broke on October 20
After 40 minutes, she and her fiance Tom Blackman (pictured together) were told to travel 35 miles (56km) to nearby Leicester Hospital, in a journey that would have taken around an hour
Woman in labour forced to travel 40 miles to give birth
A woman in labour had to travel 40 miles to give birth after being turned away from three hospitals because they did not have enough midwives.
Barbara Job, 25, from Peterborough, had to make the hour-long journey to Leicester on September 25.
Her birthing plans specified Peterborough City Hospital and she rang the unit there after her waters broke, her mother-in-law Rica Scott said.
But she and her husband William were told there were not enough staff to ensure a safe delivery and they should look elsewhere.
The pair were met with the same response at Huntingdon’s Hinchingbrooke Hospital and the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge.
Leicester Royal Infirmary finally accepted Mrs Job and the couple had to drive to the hospital while she was in ‘incredible pain’, Ms Scott said. She gave birth to a healthy boy there on September 27.
Miss McKinney had to check Persy was breathing, while Mr Blackman made sure she was not bleeding excessively.
Her ‘nightmare’ case came just five days before another pregnant woman was made to travel 40 miles to give birth because the same hospital turned her away.
Barbara Job, 25, from Peterborough, had to make the journey to Leicester on September 25 because the hospital did not have enough midwives.
The NHS is in the midst of a midwifery crisis, with nearly 300 more staff leaving the health service than joined it last year, latest statistics show.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) says members are ‘at the end of their tether’ and ‘physically and emotionally burnt out’.
Writing on social media, Miss McKinney said: ‘Peterborough hospital seriously let us down.
‘When we called to say we were on our way, we were told that we couldn’t come in to give birth because they were closed.
‘They had no contingency plan and left us waiting for around 40 minutes before calling back to say that the only hospital that could take us in was Leicester.
‘Well we didn’t make it very far and Persy was born in the living room on the sofa.’
While they were waiting for the hospital to get back, Mr Blackman — who acted as a makeshift midwife — called paramedics who helped advise them through the procedure.
The paramedics arrived minutes after the birth and took the couple and their newborn son to Hinchingbrooke Hospital, where they were cared for.
Miss McKinney said: ‘I am still in shock about how the night panned out and the fact that Peterborough hospital showed such little care and support to someone giving birth.
‘Thinking it’s acceptable to tell us to drive nearly an hour to a hospital when I am saying I need to push. And then ignoring multiple calls from the paramedics too.’
She added: ‘For a night that turned into my worst nightmare, we have got the most perfect and healthy baby out of it.
‘We now just need to come to terms with everything as it doesn’t quiet feel real what happened.’
North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust said it was sorry to hear the birth did not go to plan.
Chief nurse Jo Bennis told the BBC: ‘The safety of babies and parents is an absolute priority for us, and occasionally it is sometimes necessary to ask mothers to use alternative maternity units should ours reach capacity.’