The Short of It
We've never known a plane full of passengers to applaud a crying baby, but that's exactly what happened when a woman unexpectedly went into labor at 30,000 feet.
While traveling on a China Airlines flight from Bali to Los Angeles last week, the woman's water broke. She wasn't due for another eight weeks (health care providers often restrict air travel after 36 weeks), and there were 13 hours left in the 19-hour flight.
The crew sprang immediately into action, asking if there were any medical personnel on board. As luck would have it, a California doctor was on the flight, heading home after her honeymoon. She offered to assist in the delivery, along with the in-flight crew. With help in place—and surrounded by hundreds of onlookers who were trying to stay quiet and calm—the woman bore down and gave birth to a little girl. While she reportedly chomped down on blankets to keep from screaming, her baby let out her first cries of life mid-air, as relieved passengers broke out into applause.
The pilot made an emergency landing in Alaska, where mama and baby were taken to a nearby hospital. Both are said to be in good condition.
Though it's been four years since I was white-knuckling it through my son's delivery, I still occasionally wonder about what might have happened if I didn't make it to the hospital in time. In the last weeks before he was due, I remember not feeling comfortable straying too far from home, lest my kiddo decide to make an early appearance. In retrospect, of course, I played it a little too safe. But even now, I can't say I'd be willing to take to the friendly skies at any point during my third trimester. Thankfully for this woman, help was at the ready and her wild birth story has a very happy ending.
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