accessibility & help

British Red Cross first aider delivers his own baby after wife's super-quick labour

7 January 2013

For immediate release: Monday, January 7, 2012
For further information: Rebecca McIlhone
Contact number: 0117 3012624 or 07525 128297
British Red Cross team leader, Sam Snelling, was glad of his first aid training when he was called upon to deliver his own son in a dramatic unplanned home birth.

Sam, 29, from Plymstock, Plymouth, used to be a Red Cross first aid trainer and used his emergency childbirth training to keep wife Rachel calm when things progressed a little more quickly than the couple had been expecting.

Rachel’s waters broke at 3am on December 1. Her first contraction came 30 minutes later and just 40 minutes after that - Sam delivered their son, Isaac. The birth was so textbook the whole family were soon sitting in the living room admiring their newborn over a cup of tea.

Sam, who is now a team leader of the Red Cross care in the home service, says: “My wife’s waters broke at 3am, then we were plodding around getting ready to go to the hospital. My mother-in-law came over to look after our son Noah, who is 22 months old, but Rachel felt things were moving. I called an ambulance because we realised we weren’t going to get to hospital in time and the ambulance service stayed on the phone but really, matters just took their own course!

“It was an icy morning so I had been out and started the car and de-iced all the windows. The engine was still running when the baby was born. It was quite a shock. I didn’t really have time to panic. I was just glad that, having been a first aid trainer in the past, I’d done emergency childbirth training.

“All I remember is saying to the ambulance service operator, ‘the head’s here’. She said the shoulders would be next and as she said that there was a baby in my arms!

“I cleaned him off with clean towels, wrapped him up warm and put him on mum’s chest. I checked his colour was ok. Although it was very quick, it was a perfect delivery and when the midwife arrived I cut the cord as well!”

Rachel said: “Knowing that Sam is trained in first aid was great. He wasn’t panicking so I was quite relaxed. It was like having a midwife there. He was very calm and encouraging and kept saying, “you’re doing well,” which calmed me. The only thing I was worried about was if the baby was going to be alright when he was born because we didn’t have any equipment there. But as soon as I heard him cry I was ok. It was nice not having to go to the hospital. Two hours later we were all sitting in the lounge having a cup of tea as a family. It was very surreal.”

The Snellings were delighted with their early Christmas present and had a quiet (if sleepless) family Christmas at home celebrating. Although everything went well Rachel says if any more baby Snellings come along it’s likely they will opt for a planned home birth next time.

First aid can be life-saving in all sorts of emergencies. The Red Cross trains people in life-saving skills so they can respond to emergencies in their communities. If you would like to find out more about the courses the Red Cross offers, please visit


Notes to editors

Photographs of Sam, Rachel, Noah and baby Isaac are available on request. For more information please contact Rebecca on the numbers at the top of the press release. Photos - please credit UNP/BRC

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

Follow us on Twitter: @BRC_West

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