Parents welcome real ‘water baby’ born on canal boat in Bedford

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A river narrow boat is the last place you would expect to want to give birth – but it was the first choice for new mum Bethan Williams.

Her canal boat home became a makeshift maternity ward for the birth of baby daughter Matilda – for what’s believed to have been the first ever birth at Bedford’s Priory Marina where the boat is moored.

Real ‘water baby’ Matilda Penny Owen arrived on April 15, taking her middle name from the boat ‘Penny’ named after the nickname of baby Matilda’s late grandfather.

Proud dad Phil Owens, 33, and Bethan, 28, travel across the country’s inland waterways during the summer months.

But the couple chose to moor up at Bedford and asked community midwives to assist with the river boat birth.

Bedford based electrician Phil said: “The midwives were brilliant, we’d really like to thank Shelly Richardson and Clare Hinds for doing such a great job.

“We’ve been afloat for four years now and I was dubious about Beth having the baby on the boat at first, but the labour was so quick.

“She wanted to be in a known environment at home, and who was I to say she shouldn’t be?

“We’ve known each other all our lives and we were so thrilled to find out we were expecting.

“When we first starting dating we did live in a house, but I used to live in my van and I couldn’t get used to living in a conventional home.

“The canal boat was a compromise – what works for us is that we own our home, but we aren’t in debt like we would be with a house.

And he said the swaying ofthe boat was perfect for rocking new baby Matilda to sleep.

“Matilda has her own room and a hanging cot which rocks with the movement of the boat, she really likes it.

“The community and the freedom of being able to move around are also huge reasons why we decided to invest in the boat instead of a house.”

Baby Matilda, weighing 7lb 1oz, was born on April 15.

Phil added: “The birth went really well – she was born on her due date, she must of inherited her grandfather’s time keeping too.

“We plan to carry on the summer cruising, at least until Tilly starts school.”

The family are heading to Wales in the coming months to enjoy the summer together.