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NZ mum gives birth to baby in amniotic sac a month early, in a Costco toilet

In a doubly unlikely event,  a New Zealand mum gave birth to her baby boy a month early in the disabled toilet at a Costco and, amazingly, his amniotic sac was completely intact.

The baby’s mother, Gill Bay, had felt discomfort overnight and decided before driving away from the shop that she wanted to go to the toilet. However, when a Costco worker came to check on her, Gill was in pain and in need of help.

“I started crying because of the pain, it’s getting stronger and stronger… so someone heard me and she said, ‘Miss, are you okay? Are you pregnant?'” Gill reported.

“I was so desperate for help that I opened my cubicle door and said, ‘Yes, please help'”.

Gill’s husband and Costco staff members helped with the birth

Gill was moved into the disabled toilet where she suddenly realised that she was giving birth to her son over a month early.

“I immediately moved [onto] my hands and knees … I was trying to use what I learned from watching YouTube”, she said. “And thank God the toilet was so clean and not disgusting, and everything’s just perfect, and there’s a chair that I can hold onto if I need to”.

One Costco staff member relayed instructions from an emergency services telephone operator, while others brought in towels to prepare for the birth. After only a single push, baby Nathanael was delivered into the arms of his father, Keith. He was born at 35 weeks and five days gestation, and weighed just 3lb 4oz.

“My husband, he was the one who caught the baby, he was like the midwife there”, Gill said.

Nathanael’s birth was unusual in more than one way

Nathanael is believed to be the second baby born in a Costco, after a woman delivered a son in a shop on the other side of the world in London in 2017.

Baby Nathanael was also an en caul birth, meaning that he and his placenta were birthed together entirely encased in an unruptured amniotic sac. En caul births occur in less than one in 80,000 non-surgical deliveries. 

Both Nathanael’s parents were frightened by this situation as they did not hear their son cry after his birth.

Gill said “My husband started to say, ‘Oh, come on baby, I want you to cry’, and I was crying”.

However, Nathanael did start to cry once a Costco staff member was able to pinch open the amniotic sac. Gill described her relief when she “heard him cry and they said that everything’s okay”.

Gill and Nathanael were later wheeled out of the shop by ambulance officers on their way to hospital

Staff had tried to keep the situation private, but shoppers noticed when the family departed. “They were clapping and saying congratulations. I was just so thankful that everything went well and the baby is alive and healthy… that people are helping us – people we don’t know – and they were so compassionate and kind”, Gill said.

“To the Costco staff and everyone involved, paramedics and Waitākere Maternity, your kindness and fantastic support has deeply touched us. The safe arrival of our precious baby would not have been possible without your assistance, and for this, our gratitude knows no bounds… thank you”.

Medical support for premature babies is continuing to improve

In the decade to 2019 alone, the survival rate for extremely premature babies doubled, prompting new guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine (BAPM) that enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks gestation. The previous clinical guidance, drafted in 2008, set the standard that babies who were born before 23 weeks gestation should not be resuscitated.

Once a mother is over 22 weeks pregnant, if her baby is born prematurely, the chances of survival increase week-by-week due to technical advances, better planning so pregnant mothers who go into preterm labour go straight to specialist units, and the increased use of steroids.

Research published in November 2023 by academics at the University of Leicester and Imperial College London found the number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation who survive to discharge from hospital tripled between 2018-19, before the BAPM guidance was introduced, and 2020-21, after the BAPM guidance was introduced.

According to this research, there were a total of 261 babies born alive at 22 and 23 weeks, before the abortion limit, who survived to discharge from hospital in 2020 and 2021. This is compared to the Government abortion statistics, which show that in 2021 alone, there were 1,054 abortions for babies at 22 and 23 weeks gestation.

Spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “This amazing story about baby Nathanael who took his parents by surprise in a Costco demonstrates again the humanity of unborn children in the womb. Sadly in the UK, it remains legal to have an abortion at the same gestation as baby Nathanael and even up until birth if the baby is thought to be disabled”.

Dear reader,

You may be surprised to learn that our 24-week abortion time limit is out of line with the majority of European Union countries, where the most common time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds is 12 weeks gestation.

The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive at 23 weeks whilst, in another room of that same hospital, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age.

The majority of the British population support reducing the time limit. Polling has shown that 70% of British women favour a reduction in the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below.

Please click the button below to sign the petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to do everything in his power to reduce the abortion time limit.