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Thian Wen Li
The Straits Times
Dec 9, 2023
She had thought she could take a private-hire car after her contractions started and make it in time to the hospital to give birth.
After all, as Madam Siti Nur Shafiatul told The Straits Times, she did just that for her second child about 18 months ago.
But her third child – a boy – could not wait, and was born on Dec 6 in a private-hire car just one traffic junction away from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
The baby was originally due on Dec 13, and the 30-year-old mother had a medical check-up scheduled for Dec 6, but she suddenly felt contractions after waking up at 7.30am.
She asked her husband to take their two boys – aged two years and 18 months – to school while she called for a car via Grab to go to the hospital.
Madam Shafiatul, who prefers to be known as Madam Atul, said she struggled to walk downstairs from her Choa Chu Kang home when the car arrived at 9am.
She recalled that the driver comforted her and kept an eye on her throughout the 40-minute journey.
They were one traffic junction away from the hospital in the Novena area when she realised that they would not make it in time.
“I’m sorry, the baby is coming out,” she told the driver.
Madam Atul, who used to work in the childcare industry but is taking a break to care for her children, said she panicked, not knowing what to do.
She looked around and grabbed the handles of the doors, and the baby came out right after her water bag burst.
“I didn’t expect the baby to come so fast. With my second child, I managed to take the Grab (car) and gave birth in the hospital. So I thought maybe this one would be the same,” she said, laughing, as she recalled the day.
“When we reached the hospital, the baby was already in my hands, and the umbilical cord was already hanging out.”
The driver immediately went to look for help when they reached the hospital, she said.
Madam Atul asked a passer-by who came to the car to check on her to call her husband. He was already on the way to the hospital and could only give a shocked “Huh” when told that she had given birth in a car.
Nurses and doctors went out to the car to cover the baby and to cut the cord.
Madam Atul was then taken to the labour room, and did not have a chance to thank the driver.
She left him a $20 tip via the ride-hailing app on top of the $30 fare, gave him a good rating and wrote a message.
She said: “I told him I’m sorry for putting him through this traumatic experience, and thanked him for remaining calm.
“Grab already contacted me and told me that they will pass this message along and acknowledge this uncle’s efforts.”
She said she found the driver on Facebook and sent a message there to thank him, and aims to meet him in the future.
Madam Atul was discharged on Dec 7 while the baby boy, who has not yet been named, is still in hospital.
He was in the neonatal intensive care unit until Dec 8, when he was transferred to a special care nursery after he was in a more stable condition, Madam Atul said.
A spokesperson for Grab said the company has already spoken to the mother and conveyed her gratitude to the driver.
“We are glad that mum and baby are well and want to commend our driver-partner for his kind assistance and for remaining calm throughout the journey.”