A female soldier is preparing to fly home from Afghanistan with the new baby she didn't know she was having until she gave birth.
The woman, a gunner in the Royal Artillery, had complained of stomach pains before medics informed her she was in labour.
She gave birth to a son five weeks prematurely in Camp Bastion on Tuesday. It is understood the baby had been conceived before she flew to Afghanistan to begin the six-month tour.
The gunner was in her 34th week of pregnancy when she went into labour. It is the first time a soldier from the UK has given birth while in Afghanistan.
Today, a specialist paediatric team from the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, were flying out to assist mother and son on the flight home.
What is most amazing about the story is the fact the woman didn't know she was having a baby!
She is said to have passed fitness tests and training, including an eight-mile run with a 25lb backpack.
But it is something that happens remarkably often – as Parentdish has reported many times – with up to one-in-600 mums-to-be totally unaware they are pregnant.
In March, we reported how student Patricia Nowell, 20, had the surprise of her life when she was rushed to hospital with suspected appendicitis - and came home with a baby son! She went to hospital with stomach cramps and had to catch 3lb 8oz Matthew when she went to the toilet while waiting to see a doctor.
Amazingly, she said: " I had no cravings, no bump, hadn't put weight on and it never crossed my mind I could be pregnant."
In another case, Jodie Kenna got an unexpected Christmas present when she gave birth in the bath – because she didn't even know she was pregnant.
Trainee nursery nurse Jodie, 25, had been sent home from work with stomach cramps and decided to have a hot soak to ease them. But within minutes she was screaming in agony as she delivered 7lb 5oz Elizabeth.
Perhaps the most remarkable example is Sally Giles, 35. She had no idea she was pregnant until shortly before she gave birth - and incredibly she was having twins. Emma and Kate were born at 28 weeks, each weighing 2lb.
Even more remarkable was the fact Sally, from Leyland, Lancashire, already had a five-year-old son and was on the Pill. So when she began to feel tired and rundown, she just thought it was down to being a busy wife and mother, but decided to get a check-up with her GP all the same. He suspected an underactive thyroid gland and organised blood tests.
A week later, the surgery called her with the results and said they'd like her to see a midwife. A scan then revealed she was having twins.
Thirteen days later, her daughters were born early.
"You do feel a bit of a fool not realising you're having a baby - or in my case two babies," she said at the time.
"After all, I had done everything during my pregnancy you are not supposed to do - from drinking wine to eating soft cheese and shellfish, and even carrying a wardrobe up and down the stairs because I was decorating.
"But I'd still had "periods" on the Pill, and although my jeans were tighter, I could still do them up."
Jen Mearns, a midwifery manager of London's Birth Centre, said: "There are a few very young women who are in self-denial about being pregnant. They might conceal their pregnancy from families and friends, and even pretend to themselves they aren't having a baby.
"But, difficult as it is for many people to imagine, situations where the woman truly has no idea she is having a baby really do happen. And often they occur in busy women, and particularly as they approach the menopause."
It's a theory backed up by a midwife who spoke to Victoria Derbyshire on Radio Five Live today. She said it was perfectly possible the soldier in Afghanistan was oblivious to the baby growing inside her because she would have been so focused on soldiering.
She said: "Some women have a very small weight gain and some have very quiet babies. The fact that she is a soldier and has been very focused on her duties and her work on the frontline means there is a potential distraction element where she has not been thinking about the possibility that she is pregnant."
But are there other reasons? In the States, the incidence of surprise babies is so common that they have a TV show dedicated to the subject, fittingly called I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. Its experts say that besides from the obvious reason – denial – there are a number of other factors that can contribute to the "surprise pregnancy" phenomenon:
• The foetus is small, inactive, and/or carried toward the back of the womb. Many women believe that the baby's movements are just irregular or strong digestive activity!
• Recent previous childbirth. Many women continue to believe that they cannot get pregnant right after giving birth, or while they are breastfeeding. Not true!
• Dieting. Women who are very active and watch their weight religiously may crank up their fitness routine and/or begin dieting when they notice a weight gain. Because of this, they may not gain weight as their pregnancy progresses.
• Stress. Stressful jobs, family, and personal lives contribute to irregular periods, and may cause women not to pay attention to their menstrual cycle, or blame missing periods on stress. • Unborn baby is mistaken for a tumour or cyst. Especially when a woman has a history of endometriosis, or fibroid cysts.
• Obesity. Carrying a lot of excess weight can perfectly disguise the baby bump. • Wrong use of birth control. Many women are certain they could not be pregnant because they use birth control. However, all birth control methods have a failure rate.
• Breakthrough bleeding. Some women continue to have period-like bleeding throughout their pregnancy; it may be lighter or irregular, or even coincide with a woman's usual time of the month.
• Negative home pregnancy test. These tests aren't fool-proof. Whether taken or read incorrectly, or simply giving a false reading, once a woman has tested negative for pregnancy at home, she may simply rule it out.
• History of irregular cycles and/or infertility. Not being able to get pregnant in the past, a history of missing or irregular periods, and/or being close to menopause can all fool a woman into thinking she couldn't be pregnant. The truth is, unless a method of birth control is used every time a woman has sex, she can get pregnant!
P.S. The name of the soldier's baby hasn't yet been revealed but we reckon Sebastian would be perfect – after Camp BASTION!
- Mum gives birth on commuter train
When Rabita Sarkar started having contractions, she didn’t think she would make it to hospital quick enough with New York commuter traffic, so she hopped on a subway train with her husband Aditya instead. Her son wasn’t hanging around though, and Rabita <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/01/17/mum-gives-birth-on-train-after-trying-to-beat-rush-hour-traffic/" target="_blank">gave birth on board</a> minutes after the train left their station. The driver skipped the majority of the stops on the journey into Manhattan, and emergency services were waiting for the family as they pulled into Manhattan's 33rd Street Station to take them to hospital.</p>
- Granny who didn't know she was pregnant gives birth in the street
Gran Jane Eadie got the shock of her life when she went into labour on a Derbyshire street - especially as she didn’t know she was pregnant! Jane had stomach pains while out and about, and sat down on a bench to rest. She then surprised passers-by, and herself, by going into labour and <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/10/06/granny-gives-birth-to-baby-boy-in-a-derbyshire-street/" target="_blank">giving birth to a little boy </a>called James. Jane said she had noticed she had put on weight, but thought she was menopausal!</p>
- Dad delivers baby into his hoodie
Mum-to-be Toni Pankhurst was turned away from hospital as midwives didn’t think she was near to giving birth. Her baby boy, Phoenix, was born 10 minutes later in the hospital car park, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/01/03/dad-delivers-son-into-his-hoodie-in-hospital-car-park/" target="_blank">into his dad’s hoodie,</a> weighing 5lb, 15oz. Four police officers nearby ran to help Toni and midwife for the day, husband Martin, before Toni and new arrival Phoenix were taken back into hospital for checks.</p>
- Mum gives birth in shop doorway
Poor Sarah Plews ended up <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/12/12/mum-gives-birth-in-shop-doorway-unusual-birth-story-location/" target="_blank">giving birth in a shop doorway</a> after midwives turned her away from hospital! The mum-to-be was told to go for a walk and get some lunch, as she wasn’t ready to give birth. Sarah and husband, Dave walked to a nearby café, but as they made their way back to the hospital, baby Ivy made her arrival, with Sarah sitting in a shop doorway. Despite the dramatic delivery, Sarah had nothing but praise for the midwives, but did want to say “I told you so!”</p>
- Mum gives birth live on the internet
Mum of three Nancy Salgueiro <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/10/17/mum-gives-birth-live-on-the-internet/" target="_blank">gave birth live on the net</a> in October, welcoming a 6lbs, 10oz baby boy in front of 13,350 viewers. Nancy, from Canada had a water birth, before her two-year-old son Taivus cut the umbilical cord and five-year-old daughter Leilani looked on.</p>
- Midwife delivers own baby using make-up mirror
Despite delivering thousands of babies, Claire Clarke-Wood didn’t expect to have to be her own midwife. But when she went into labour at home three weeks early, she <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/12/29/midwife-claire-clarke-wood-delivers-her-own-baby-daughter-esmay-using-a-make-up-mirror/" target="_blank">delivered baby Esmay herself,</a> using a make-up mirror in her bathroom to see what was happening! After having contractions, Claire called an ambulance, but super-speedy Esmay made her entrance before they arrived, weighing 6lb, 12oz.</p>
- Mum gives birth in Clarks
Michelle Collins came away with more than she expected when she went shoe shopping close to her due date. She went into <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/11/28/mum-names-son-ethan-clark-after-giving-birth-in-clarks-shoe-shop/" target="_blank">labour in a branch of Clarks,</a> and then named her new arrival after the shoe chain, choosing the moniker Ethan Clark. Michelle gave birth to Ethan in the staff room of a Clarks factory outlet in Street, Somerset, and funnily enough, didn’t actually get any shopping done…</p>
- Mum gives birth at a bus stop
A bus stop in Cumbria was the unlikely setting for a <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/09/23/bus-stop-birth-woman-gives-birth-to-breech-baby-at-bus-stop/" target="_blank">dramatic breech birth</a> in September. Agata Kopera was turned away from hospital, and gave birth to baby Fabian at a bus stop on her way home. Leaning against the side of the bus stop, she delivered her son into her husband’s jacket. New dad Jacek raced to get help from a nearby house, before the family were taken to hospital.</p>
- Mum runs marathon and gives birth hours later
Sporty Amber Miller made headlines when she ran a marathon while heavily pregnant, and then <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/10/11/mum-runs-marathon-then-delivers-her-baby/" target="_blank">gave birth hours later</a>. Amber completed the 26 mile race in 6.5 hours, but had to walk the second half after her contractions started! After a quick bite to eat, she headed to hospital and gave birth to baby June, weighing 7lbs and 130z.</p>
- Mum takes driving test while having contractions
When heavily pregnant Emma French started having contractions just before taking her driving test, she was determined to get through it, so she wouldn’t have to wait months for another test! Emma kept her contractions a secret from her examiner and instructor, and <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/11/01/mum-takes-driving-test-whilst-in-labour-and-drives-herself-to-hospital-for-birth/" target="_blank">passed her test before driving herself to hospital</a> where she gave birth to baby Eva.</p>
- Sisters give birth to baby girls within hours of each other in the same hospital
Sisters Nicole Jeffs, 19, and Elisa Pass, 30, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/02/10/sisters-give-birth-to-baby-girls-within-hours-stepping-hill-hospital/" target="_blank">both gave birth</a><a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/02/10/sisters-give-birth-to-baby-girls-within-hours-stepping-hill-hospital/" target="_blank"> to baby girls, in the same hospital ward within hours of each other!</a> The close-knit pair actually discovered they were pregnant on the same day, and although they were due a fortnight apart, both their daughters arrived within hours of each other.</p>
- Sisters give birth in the same hospital bed one day apart
Rhiannon and Natalie Perllman traded places in the maternity suite when one was wheeled out after having her twins as the other was wheeled in! The coincidence happened despite the fact that Rhiannon, 23, and Natalie, 27, were supposed to give birth more than a month apart.</p>
- Mum survives four heart attacks and a stroke while giving birth to twins
George Cormack, 33, from Essex, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/04/18/mum-survives-four-heart-attacks-and-a-stroke-while-giving-birth-to-twins/" target="_blank">almost died when her heart stopped after a bilateral stroke as she gave birth</a> to her first twin, Oscar. Her second twin, Connie was not breathing when she was delivered, but was saved thanks to medical staff at Colchester General Hospital. George suffered an <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2010/01/27/a-what-is-amniotic-fluid/" target="_blank">amniotic fluid </a>embolism - a rare condition which effects about one in 20,000 women - where fluid which surrounds the baby enters the mother's blood stream via the womb and triggers an allergic reaction. Doctors put George in an induced coma to help her recover, and when she finally woke up, she spent three months battling to get back to health, getting to know her twins, and learning to speak again.</p>
- Mum delivers baby home alone... then has to save her life minutes later
Clare Callaghan went into labour home alone. <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/pregnancy-and-birth/mum-delivers-baby-home-alone-then-saves-her-life-minutes-later/" target="_blank">She then had to save newborn Pippa after she stopped breathing because she was born still in her amniotic sac</a>. Clare then had to rip it apart to save her newborn daughter’s life. “I had to break it open with my hands, which was difficult,” says Clare. “I don't know where I got the strength from, but I knew I had to do it to save my baby's life.”</p>
- Mum gives birth on back seat of cab
Taxi for two please, mate! Cabbie Peter Wakefield got the shock of his life when he was asked to take Faye Branighan to hospital as she was in labour. He raced across town to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, but new arrival <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/04/23/taxi-mum-gives-birth-on-back-seat-of-cab/" target="_blank">Lucas Jake was ready to arrive, and was born in the back of the 36-year-old's taxi </a><a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/04/23/taxi-mum-gives-birth-on-back-seat-of-cab/" target="_blank">in the hospital's car park.</a></p>
- Mum gives birth in front of cheering bus stop queue!
A mum <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/09/28/mum-gives-birth-in-front-of-cheering-bus-stop-queue-wiltshire/" target="_blank">gave birth to a baby girl at a bus stop</a> while passersby cheered her on! The woman was just outside Great Western Hospital in Wiltshire when her baby decided to make her speedy entry into the world. A small crowd helped the mum as her daughter was born, before a group of doctors and nurses raced out of the hospital to help. </p>
- Student with 'appendicitis' has surprise baby - in hospital loo
Student Patricia Nowell had the surprise of her life when she was <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/03/20/student-with-appendicitis-has-surprise-baby-in-hospital-loo/" target="_blank">rushed to hospital with suspected appendicitis - and came home with a baby son!</a> Patricia, 20, went to hospital with stomach cramps last October and had to catch 3lb 8oz Matthew when she went to the toilet while waiting to see a doctor.</p>
- Mum's backache was labour and a surprise baby!
Struggling to an out-of-hours doctors' surgery with excruciating backache, mum-of-one Kayleigh Renwick thought she would be diagnosed with a kidney infection. Instead, she was told <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/11/27/mums-backache-was-labour-and-a-surprise-baby/" target="_blank">she was pregnant - and just six hours later gave birth to her second daughter!</a></p>
- Baby born 1000 ft in the air inside Coastguard helicopter
In December 2012, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/12/11/baby-born-1000-ft-in-the-air-inside-coastguard-helicopter-unst/" target="_blank">a baby was born a whopping 1000 ft in the air in a Shetland Coastguard helicopter!</a> The expectant mum went into labour on Unst, the most northerly inhabited island of the UK, and was collected by helicopter to be taken to the mainland. Stressful!</p>
- Mum gives birth on a plane
A woman named her new baby after one of the flight attendants who came to her aid when she <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2013/01/14/mum-gives-birth-on-plane/" target="_blank">went into labour during a flight!</a> Armina Babayan, 31, was flying to Armenia from Siberia on Saturday, and gave birth to a baby daughter mid-air, two hours before the flight landed in the capital city of Yerevan. </p>
- Woman who didn't know she was pregnant gives birth on Christmas Day
Leanne Carter, 21, gave birth on Christmas Day - to a son called Joseph. Giving a whole new meaning to Christmas surprises, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/12/31/woman-leanne-carter-gave-birth-on-christmas-day-she-didnt-know-she-was-pregnant-surprise-baby-joseph/" target="_blank">she had no idea she was pregnant until she went into labour.</a> Leanne had felt a bit bloated just before Christmas, but was still having her periods and did not have any other pregnancy symptoms.</p>