Alice Payne, 23, from Ashbourne, Derbyshire, woke from an hour-long nap in hospital to find she had nearly pushed out her 6lb 4oz son, Philip, during her slumber.
She had been medically induced, but a machine had misread her contractions and didn’t identify how close to together her contractions were.
Thinking she was some way off giving birth, doctors gave her medication to help her sleep and build her strength for the final push.
To their amazement they watched as she pushed her son out whilst napping at the same time.
“I remember a nurse trying to put Philip in my arms but I was going to sleep again,” said Payne. “I woke up two hours later to properly meet him.”
Payne was induced at 10.30pm on 16 December at the Royal Derby Hospital after her son stopped growing in the womb at 38 weeks.
After nothing happened for 24 hours, doctors injected the hormone Syntocinon into Payne’s body every half an hour to increase the intensity of her contractions.
After four hours, the monitor read that her contractions were fluctuating between 20% to 40% of her muscles engaged.
Payne asked for some pain relief and was given a full dose of Pethadine by medics who did not believe she was close to giving birth.
Thirty minutes later, Payne went to the loo, only for her baby’s heart rate to slow. Medics got her back on the bed, where she fell asleep, and doctors realised she was actually 10cm dilated and ready to give birth.
“Because the contraction monitor wasn’t reading me properly, doctors didn’t realise that I was as far along as I actually was,” Payne said.
“So I was given some drugs to let me nap for a couple of hours, but not long later they realised I was ready to push.”
In her relaxed state, medics didn’t think Payne would be able to push and thought they would need to rush her in for an emergency C-section.
But, in her sleep, Payne responded to the familiar voice of her husband John Payne, 31, who told her when to push.
Payne was told her “sleep birth” caused quite a sensation and at one point she had a midwife, two doctors, a nurse and student nurse watching the “weirdest thing” they had ever seen.
She woke for the last 10 minutes of the birth on 18 December - but fell asleep as soon as Philip was born. The family were discharged from hospital two days later and both mum and son are doing well.
“Though I’m pleased I missed the pain of labour, I do wish I had been more present for my first baby’s birth,” said Payne.
“Now when he’s older and asks me, I’ll have to tell him I nodded off.”