How One Ob-gyn Miraculously Delivered a Baby—While In Labor With Her Own

Talk about a superwoman!

dr.-hess-and-her-daughter-ellen-WEB-SmallerCourtesy Hala Sabry DO, Amanda Hess, DO, and Physician Moms Group PMGAmanda Hess, an ob-gyn in Frankfort, Kentucky, believes that “a lot of doctors are always thinking of their patients, even when they’re a patient themselves.” And Hess is most certainly one of those doctors, as she proved beyond a shadow of a doubt on July 23. (Here’s how to tell the difference between two types of doctors: a DO and an MD.)

According to the Washington Post, Hess was at Frankfort Regional Hospital, about to begin induced labor to have her own baby. According to Dr. Hala Sabry, one of Hess’s fellow doctors, Hess “overheard the nurses preparing for a woman in active labor who needed to deliver immediately because the baby was in distress.” Hess’s doctor and mama instincts kicked in, and she jumped into action. Postponing her own labor, she threw on a hospital gown and some boots and raced to the room.

It turned out that Hess knew the mother-to-be. The woman, Leah Halliday Johnson, had actually seen Hess for a prenatal appointment about a week before. Halliday Johnson’s labor had progressed so quickly and suddenly that she needed to deliver, but her on-call doctor wasn’t there yet. He was on his way, but the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck, and Hess realized that there was no time to wait for him to arrive. Hess remembers saying, “I’m not on call, I’m here in a gown, but I think we ought to have the baby.” She delivered Halliday Johnson’s baby herself, a healthy little girl. Just a bit southeast in South Carolina, this baby is her family’s first girl born in 137 years.

Hess admits that she was working “literally ’til the last second.” Her own contractions began only minutes after Halliday Johnson’s baby had arrived. Her own daughter, Ellen Joyce, was born that same night. Here are some great ways to get your mojo back after baby.

Hess was so professional that Halliday Johnson had no idea how close she was to giving birth herself. “She was definitely in doctor mode,” she told NBC. “My husband noticed something was going on because she had on a hospital gown, but I didn’t notice that because I was on the delivery table.” 

Naturally, when Halliday Johnson learned the truth, she was amazed. “It speaks a lot to who [Hess] is as a woman and a mother as well as a doctor,” she said. “It makes you feel better, bringing a baby girl into the world, knowing there are women like her willing to step up like that.” Here’s what mothers of daughters say they wish they knew sooner.

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Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a Staff Writer for who has been storytelling since before she could write. She graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been writing for Reader's Digest since 2017. Her creative nonfiction piece "Anticipation" was published in Angles literary magazine in spring 2017. Meghan is a proud Hufflepuff and member of Team Cap.