Zara Tindall's baby was almost Born Before Arrival (BBA) - what does that mean and how common is it?

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Watch: Zara Tindall gives birth to a son.

Zara Tindall gave birth to her third child – a baby boy – with an unexpected bathroom delivery, her husband Mike Tindall has confirmed.

The happy news of his son's arrival was announced by Tindall on his podcast The Good, The Bad and The Rugby, with confirmation later given that the couple have named the newborn, Lucas Philip Tindall.

A representative for the couple added that Lucas was "born on Sunday 21st March 2021 weighing 8lbs 4oz."

Speaking on the podcast, Tindall shared some details about the newborn's dramatic arrival, telling his co-hosts that after enjoying the rugby on Saturday, Sunday was "even better because a little baby boy arrived at my house".

Zara and Mike Tindall have welcomed their third child via an unexpected home birth, pictured March, 2020. (Getty Images)
Zara and Mike Tindall have welcomed their third child via an unexpected home birth, pictured March, 2020. (Getty Images)

He revealed the baby arrived at 6pm on Sunday evening, and the couple had not chosen a name by the time of the recording.

"Arrived very quickly, didn't make it to hospital. On the bathroom floor," he said.

"Fortunately Zara's friend Dolly is, she's actually more important than I am at making sure she's been at all three of my children's births, she was there and recognised that we wouldn't have got to the hospital in time, so it was run into the gym, get a mat, get into the bathroom, towels down, brace, brace, brace!

"Fortunately the midwife that was going to meet us at the hospital wasn't that far away so she drove up, got there just as we'd assumed the position, and then the second midwife arrived just after the head had arrived."

Speaking of how his wife is doing following their son's dramatic arrival Tindall said: "she's a warrior", and added: "She was back up, we went for a walk this morning."

The couple are already parents to Mia Grace, six, and Lena Elizabeth, two.

While the midwives arrived in the nick of time to be able to assist Zara in giving birth, the family were close to having what is known as a Birth Before Arrival (BBA) birth.

Read more: Who is Dolly Maude? Zara Tindall's best friend who helped with home birth

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What is a BBA birth?

Birth that happens away from a hospital or birth centre, prior to the arrival of a midwife is referred to as Born Before Arrival (BBA).

“Birth Before Arrival is also called a ‘precipitate birth’ and means the labour and birth happens very quickly (within three hours of contractions starting)," explains Meg Wilson, consultant gynaecologist at www.london-gynaecology.com.

"It can be traumatic for mothers as they are not prepared and do not have the support of a midwife to look after the mother and baby.”

Read more: Mike Tindall shares the messy reality of homeschooling daughter Mia

According to Lesley Gilchrist, registered midwife and co-founder of My Expert Midwife BBAs are actually much more common than we think.

"If a woman has had a long labour previously, she often thinks that she has more time to call the midwife when contractions start," she explains.

"However, second and subsequent babies can come much more quickly due to the body having ‘learnt’ how to labour from the previous birth."

If you think your baby might be about to be born, Gilchrist suggests calling your local maternity centre or 999 for assistance.

"Signs that your baby’s birth may be imminent include: a sudden increase in strength and frequency of contractions, an uncontrollable urge to push, bear down or open your bowels (this is pressure from the baby’s head descending quickly), a stinging feeling as your baby’s head begins to crown," Gilchrist says.

The couple already have two children, pictured September 2018. (Getty Images)
The couple already have two children, pictured September 2018. (Getty Images)

How to prepare for a BBA birth

Gilchrist says preparation for an unexpected birth should include trying to find something to dry your baby with.

"Babies are born wet and can quickly become cold," she explains. "Ideally towels, but anything absorbent, T-shirt, sheet etc."

Whilst an unplanned delivery at home may seem frightening, it is important to try to stay calm.

"Let mum listen to her body as to what position is best for her to birth in (this is often instinctively kneeling or on all fours)," Gilchrist continues.

She also suggests getting ready to catch the baby. "This can be anyone with a reliable pair of hands," she adds.

Read more: Sarah Ferguson shares throwback photos to mark Princess Eugenie's first birthday as a mum

Once the baby is born Gilchrist suggests placing the baby on mum's chest for skin to skin contact.

"This ensures they keep warm and can help regulate their breathing," Gilchrist explains. 

"Most babies breathe spontaneously within one minute of birth, but if your baby isn’t breathing whilst you are waiting for assistance, you can rub your baby with a cloth or towel to stimulate them.

"Never cut or tie the cord, as long as the cord is left baby will be receiving oxygen rich blood to help them transition into the world," she adds.

Watch: Zara Tindall is pregnant with her third child.

The NCT have put together some further advice about what to do if the baby arrives early and the mother is at home with just a partner:

• If the mother says she thinks the baby is coming now, trust what she says: It’s probably safer to stay at home and summon help than shoe-horn her into the car and risk the baby arriving on the hard shoulder of the motorway.

• Help the mother get into whatever position feels comfortable for her.

• Dial 999 - you will be kept on the line until help arrives and told what to do. Open the front door so the ambulance crew have easy access and you don't have to leave the mother alone again.

• Put the heating on and grab clean towels. Then stay with the mother, offering as much reassurance as you can muster. Help is on its way and often if a baby is arriving unexpectedly it tends to be straightforward.

• If the baby is born before help arrives, get the baby into skin-to-skin contact with the mum if at all possible, and carefully cover the baby with towels so they don't get cold.

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