A mother is celebrating this week after giving birth to the first baby in Horsham Hospital in almost 30 years.
It was the first birth in the hospital since its maternity unit was closed in 1985.
Baby Josie was born in less than two hours after her mother’s water broke spontaneously during a check up.
Heidi Alobaidi, 37, who lives on Hurst Road, Horsham, opposite the hospital, said: “We arrived at the clinic at 9am, Josie arrived safe and sound at 10.30am, and we were home by 11.30am.
“The midwives were simply incredible - we can’t thank them enough. I had five to seven contractions and she asked me are you ready to push and I was, and out she came.”
The mother had been sent home the Saturday and Sunday before from East Surrey Hospital at Redhill.
Heidi said she had been getting regular contractions every ten minutes, but they were not frequent enough for her to be induced. She explained: “I think you sort of know when something is going to happen, you’ve always got that stress of a 30 minute car journey.
“It was definitely a surprise.”
Heidi was expecting to have to wait at least another day before going into labour.
“I was very lucky to be just across the road from a group of very experienced midwives that made the whole experience as smooth and straightforward as it could be.”
Heidi’s husband Niel Alobaidi, managing director of a tour operator based at Gatwick, was by her side when Josie was born.
The couple have another daughter, Jennevieve, who is two and a half years old.
This week Heidi expressed her ‘surprise’ that there are presently no maternity units closer to Horsham. She said: “It’s just that timing thing that’s particular for people who live in Horsham.
“You’re slap-bang in the middle of lots of hospitals but nowhere is particularly close.
“For such a big town it’s surprising.
She added: “I know that all the midwives in Horsham would love to see some investment into a midwife-led maternity unit.”
Caroline Hay, 56, from Pulborough, a midwife at Horsham Hospital’s antenatal clinic, said: “It was very unexpected for her and for us because normally if it’s a planned home birth we are at home.
“But I didn’t want to move her in an ambulance to East Surrey because I just knew we would be calling off in a roundabout and having to deliver in the back of an ambulance which isn’t easy.”
She added: “The highest priority for us is the safety, dignity and care of the mother and baby.” And on her work the experienced midwife said: “It’s quite a stressful job and it’s difficult, but I’m very honoured to do it and each birth is a complete miracle.
“It’s just something amazing.”