It is the strangest thing that has ever happened to her – having her first baby delivered on an international flight.
But the result of 19-year-old Shellesha Woodstock’s labour on board a flight from Grand Cayman to Jamaica Tuesday morning, was a beautiful five and a half pound baby girl, to be called Latiesha Julene Clarke.
Both mum, a Jamaican national who had been working as a home helper in West Bay, and baby, are doing fine at Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Speaking from the hospital in Jamaica over the phone yesterday, Ms Woodstock said of her new arrival, ‘I feel very grateful.’ The baby is in an incubator with special care because of her small size.
Within 10 to 15 minutes of being on board the flight with her partner, Department of Environmental Health employee Laflin Clarke, Ms Woodstock, who was seven months pregnant, began to feel cramps.
She alerted a flight attendant to the fact and that she thought she was going into labour.
Captain Kris Bergstrom reported in a press release that after complaints from the woman that she was having cramps, Senior Flight attendant Ava Smith and her crew went into action to provide as much comfort as possible. Much to their surprise and the surprise of all on board, the mother went into labour and gave birth before the flight could land.
Ms Smith says as soon as the plane levelled out, the lady reported not feeling well. She says by the time they moved her from her seat in 4A to the galley the baby was ready to be born.
‘She put me on the floor up by the cockpit and I was lying on the ground,’ Ms Woodstock explained.
She felt very weak and sick, and believes it was only within a matter of five minutes of her lying on the ground that the baby was born.
‘It was quite an eventful morning and it all happened very quickly,’ said Ms Smith. ‘The other members of the crew Lynn McCafferty and Nicola Walsh acted superbly and we are proud that we were able to respond the way we did. Both Captain Kris and First Officer Troy McCoy were very supportive from the cockpit.’
Ms Woodstock noted that the Cayman Airways hostesses were very helpful, and were telling her how to breathe.
Following the birth Ms Woodstock felt very weak still, in a good deal of pain and somewhat in shock that the baby had been born.
Looking back on the experience of having given birth mid-flight, she said ‘It was very strange.’
The flight was diverted to Montego Bay where it was met by an ambulance, Cayman Airways reported. Mother and baby girl were doing fine and flight 600 continued to its original destination, Kingston.
CEO of Cayman Airways, Patrick Strasburger says ‘I am proud of Captain Kris, Ava and the rest of the team who acted swiftly and professionally. We have invested a lot of time and money training our crew so that they are ready to deal with situations like this. We wish mother and baby the very best.’