West Sussex mum gives birth in front seat of moving Skoda

A dad had to ‘catch’ his newborn son while driving as his wife gave birth on the way to hospital.

Mum Jessamy Shreeves, 32, of London Road, was taken by surprise as her third child decided to make an appearance as they travelled from their home in Handcross to the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath last week.

Jessamy, Keir and baby Orlando

Jessamy, Keir and baby Orlando

Jessamy first noticed contractions starting at 7pm so decided to have a bath. By 9.30pm the contractions were becoming ‘more intense’.

She said: “Getting out of the bath and getting dressed when having contractions is hard work.

“We got into the car and as I got in my waters broke.”

Realising the baby was making up time for being almost two weeks ‘late’ and that things were progressing fairly quickly, the couple set off to hospital with Jessamy in the front seat and Keir, her husband, driving.

The High Sheriff with her latest grandson

The High Sheriff with her latest grandson

However, as they drove along they realised they were not going to make it to hospital in time, deciding to divert to Jessamy’s parents house ten minutes away while Keir phoned for an ambulance.

Realising the call handler could not hear what Keir was trying to say on the phone due to Jessamy, she decided to hang her head out of the car window.

Moments later, driving with his right hand on the steering wheel, Keir suddenly had to use his left hand to catch his newborn son as the head appeared.

“I was hanging out of the car window and it was still moving while Keir was driving with his right hand and catching the baby,” Jessamy said. “By that point we were halfway down my parents’ drive and we lost phone signal.

Jess with Orlando

Jess with Orlando

“I pulled back in from the window and picked him [the baby] up off the seat.”

Jessamy then had to unhook the umbilical cord from around the baby’s neck and, after yelping, the nine-pound baby started breastfeeding.

Jessamy is the daughter of the High Sheriff of West Sussex, Davina Irwin-Clark, whose house they arrived at.

“Luckily my parents are very calm in a crisis and they went and called an ambulance and then dad brought the phone out to us so that the call handler could ask us to check his airways.”

However, that was not it for the drama as Jessamy ended up delivering the placenta on her parents’ Persian rug in the hallway.

Three members of the ambulance team arrived and checked mother and baby, before taking them to the Princess Royal for tests, after Keir had cut the umbilical cord.

Jessamy and the baby, Orlando Shreeves, are now safely back home and doing well.

Jessamy joked: “We upgraded to a Skoda Kodiaq because we’d heard it was such a good family car with space for all three car seats...we didn’t realise we’d need it to double as a birthing suite!”

Keir, who is an associate vicar at St Peter’s Church, Brighton, added: “Friends keep congratulating me for my ‘hands on’ parenting approach...and the midwives suggested I join the profession, but Jessamy is the one who is amazing. We’re both so grateful to God for our speedy little son and his safe (albeit unconventional) delivery.”

Only six weeks before, the High Sheriff had spent five hours in Lewes as an official visitor at the Sussex Police Control Centre for 999 calls.

Mrs Irwin-Clark, the wife of the former vicar Peter Irwin-Clark from St Mary’s Church in Broadwater, Worthing, said: “I recently saw the outstanding skill of our police emergency call handlers when I spent the day with them at their control centre.

“Now, having experienced for ourselves being on the receiving side of the service from South East Coast Ambulance, we are personally grateful to the emergency services for their assistance, as well as being even more directly impressed.”

Paramedic Christopher Neal said: “It’s great to hear mother and baby are doing well and we really appreciate the kind words.

“Dad did a great job prior to our arrival and we wish the whole family all the very best for the future.”

The High Sheriffs of West and East Sussex are jointly hosting a service at Lancing College on February 20, 2020, for members of the Emergency and Support Services, to celebrate their work for the community.