In the time it took the train to go from one station to the next, a new life had joined the world!

In what sounds like a dramatic scenario straight out of a film, at around 1:40 p.m. on Friday, January 19, a 25-year-old woman gave birth on a passenger train heading northwards out of the Tokyo area. The incident occurred on a JR rapid train on the Jōban Line, en route from Shinagawa Station to Tsuchiura Station in Ibaraki Prefecture. According to the rail company, JR East, someone giving birth on the train is something they’ve “never heard of happening before.”

JR East explained that, when the train had stopped at Kashiwa Station, a passenger on the platform pushed the emergency button, alerting staff. A station attendant came running and found the woman and her baby lying on the ground near the priority seats, the baby still with her umbilical cord attached. Mother and baby were then taken to a nearby hospital. Both are reported to be doing well.

A passenger on the train, former nurse Tsuzumi Mogami, relayed what happened inside the passenger car. She was sitting next to the 25-year-old woman, when her demeanor suddenly changed just as the train departed from Matsudo Station. Her face became red as she squeezed the handrail, and when Mogami asked if she was alright, the woman replied, “I’m starting to have labor pains.”

Mogami, who has five children herself, happened to be on her way home from visiting one of her kids in the hospital and had a bath towel with her. In the eight minutes between Matsudo Station and the following stop – Kashiwa Station – the woman’s water broke, so Mogami spread the towel on the floor and had the woman sit down. Not even five minutes later, the baby’s head had breached, and then “the rest of the body just popped out,” Mogami explained.

An OBGYN nurse in her 40s, who was also interviewed, shared her surprise at the story. “It depends on whether or not it’s the woman’s first birth, but generally, it takes at least an hour from the time the mother starts feeling labor pains until she gives birth. In extremely rare cases we have mothers who don’t make it to the hospital in time give birth inside the ambulance.”

Keio Jidosha, a taxi company in the Tokyo Metropolitan area, offers a special taxi service for pregnant women. In 2016, of the 1,367 women who went into labor and used the service to get to a hospital, only one ended up giving birth in the taxi.

It was certainly a lucky coincidence for Mogami to be in the same passenger car as the 25-year-old mother, and a great relief that both mother and baby made it through the ordeal safely.

Source: Asahi Shimbun (1, 2)
Featured image: Pakutaso