Baby Freya born at the side of the road while parents tried to reach Warwick Hospital

A baby girl is lucky to have survived after being born in the front seat of a car while her parents tried to reach Warwick Hospital.

Tiny Freya Darby was delivered by her mother in a terrifying birth in a car on the M40 motorway.

Hayley Ward and partner Andy Darby with baby Freya and son Riley.

Hayley Ward and partner Andy Darby with baby Freya and son Riley.

With the umbilical cord wound twice around her neck, Freya was saved by her mother Hayley Ward’s quick reaction to allow her to breathe.

“We pulled off the motorway at Gaydon and dialled 999 as I was pulling her out of my trousers – not an easy job in the front seat of a car. I managed to unwrap the cord and thankfully she cried almost instantly,” said Ms Ward.

Ms Ward and her partner, Andy Darby, live in Banbury but she was booked in at Warwick because of a haemorrhage after her son’s birth. Campaigners trying to get full maternity services back to The Horton General Hospital in Banbury said this could have easily been a tragic tale and is yet another example of why their town needs to get its obstetric unit back.

Ms Ward said: “When I went into labour, Warwick said my contractions weren’t close enough together. They said I should take paracetamol and go to bed. I did question this as Riley had been born quite quickly.

“Four hours later my contractions went from every six minutes to two. Suddenly things suddenly started to speed up.

“We got on the motorway and just before Gaydon my waters broke and I could feel the head really low. I called Warwick and the midwife said, ‘If you don’t think you will make it pull over and call 999’ but as I was still on the phone, with the next contraction, the head came out followed by the body with the next contraction after that.”

Thankful that baby Freya had not been strangled, the shocked couple pulled over and waited for an ambulance.

“I must say the paramedics who picked us up were amazing,” said Ms Ward.

“It probably only took them 15 minutes to get to us but it felt like ages as we sat in a car at 4.40am in the cold and dark with a newborn baby.

“I was hoping I would not start haemorrhaging in the car with no medical assistance.

“Two ambulances arrived and blue-lighted us into Warwick Hospital. Luckily the placenta didn’t come out until I was in hospital so I didn’t start bleeding heavily until I was there and my daughter was absolutely fine.”

Ms Ward said both she and partner Andy were ‘very frightened’.

“Andy said he actually didn’t think he would be coming home with both of us,” said Ms Ward.

“It was an experience I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to go through.

“If the Horton had been an option for me I would have got there in time and not had this problem. Thank God my daughter is fine but things could quite easily have turned out very differently. The next person this happens to may not be so lucky.”

A health and scrutiny committee for the Horton has been set up to review the maternity downgrade.