A woman from the US used a YouTube video to help her deliver her own baby in a Turkish hotel room during a layover en route to Germany.
Tia Freeman, 22, was in her third trimester when she discovered she was pregnant, and says she didn’t want to waste the long-haul tickets she had purchased to visit her friend in Germany in March.
“I had booked the tickets ahead of time and I thought I’d just chance it. They were pretty pricey,” the US Air Force computer specialist told NBC.
However, mid-way through her flight to Turkey she started feeling unwell.
Freeman initially thought she was having a bad reaction to breaking her vegetarian diet by eating an inflight meal containing salmon.
It wasn’t until she was in the immigration line in Istanbul Airport that she started to wonder if she was in labour.
“I have never had kids and never been around people who have given birth,” she said.
“I went on my phone and looked up how to tell if you’re in labour, but the article said the only way to tell if you’re in labour or if it’s Braxton Hicks is if your water breaks and that didn’t [happen].”
So instead of heading to hospital, she jumped in a taxi and headed for her hotel, where her stomach cramps became more intense.
“That’s why I start to prepare for labour. I can barely take a breath before another contraction comes in. I didn’t even know if I would make it to the hospital at this point. Everyone I’ve encountered so far speaks very little English and I don’t speak Turkish,” Freeman said.
Turning to YouTube
After accepting that she was going to give birth in the Istanbul hotel room, Freeman looked for advice on YouTube.
“The only way I know how to do things is through the internet. I typed into YouTube ‘how to deliver a baby’. The first result is what I clicked on. I saw that water birth seems like the best option, the most comfortable and easiest to clean up. I get two towels, one to bite down on and one for the baby to get wrapped up in,” she told NBC.
Freeman used a timer on her phone to check her contractions, which were already occurring less than two minutes apart.
She said the baby “came out quickly and was floating in the tub.”
“At this point, I don’t know his gender. I lifted him up and I see he’s a boy. Then I read a wikiHow about how you shouldn’t pull out the placenta. So I scurry back to tub and pass the placenta.”
Tia also used wikiHow to find out how to cut the umbilical cord, using shoe laces and a pocket knife that she sterilised with boiling water from her hotel room’s kettle in place of a medical clamp.
“Then I nursed him and cleaned the hotel room. My mother taught me not to leave a mess like that for someone else to clean up,” she said.
After the birth
Freeman went back to the airport the following day to explain what had happened, and was taken to the US consulate to register the birth.
She was later taken to a hospital, where staff confirmed that her new baby was healthy.
Freeman named her new son Xavier, with the Turkish middle name Ata in honour of his birthplace.
“Someone at the airport suggested it. Ata is one of the forefathers of Turkey and it also means ‘gift,’” she said.
The mother and son stayed in the country for around two weeks before heading back home to the US, where baby Xavier turned seven weeks old on Wednesday.
“I never got to Germany,” she said.
Since sharing her story on Twitter, it has been retweeted and liked thousands of time, with scores of social media users sending messages of support, shock and admiration.
But Freeman said she doesn’t know what all the fuss is about.