Gisborne woman Rayne Joseph had a few things planned this week. Becoming a mum was not one of them.

But in the early hours of Thursday morning, the 21-year-old discovered she was pregnant as she gave birth in the back seat of a car.

Joseph, 21, and Neil Gotz, 26, are now the proud parents of a five-pound baby boy, who slept as his shocked mum explained the sequence of events.

"He's my surprise baby, our unknown baby."

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Throughout the estimated 36-week pregnancy, Joseph had regular periods, felt no movement from her womb and thought her slight weight gain was from being in a happy relationship.

Gotz had remarked she was getting "a bit chubby" but that was it.

At about 3am on Thursday, Joseph woke up with some "little tiny" back pains.

"I thought I needed to go to the toilet."

She felt the birth canal opening and yelled to wake Gotz.

"I'm pretty sure it's a baby or something".

Gotz rang an ambulance while his aunt, who is in a wheelchair, unlocked her specially-adapted car to get ready to drive from their Aberdeen Rd home to the hospital.

Joseph said she got into the back seat, faced the back of the car, held tight to the headrest and out popped a baby — before the car had even started.

It happened that fast.

When the tiny baby fell on to the back seat, Joseph grabbed the closest thing from the floor of the car to wrap him in — a jersey, while her aunt tied a string around his umbilical cord.

That is how the new whanau arrived at Gisborne Hospital.

Joseph said her first words were, "it's a baby",

"I was crying."

Everybody was in shock, she said.

On arrival at the maternity unit, Joseph had to explain she had no midwife, no scans and no due dates because she did not know she was pregnant.

Today she holds her son and says Gotz will name him — it is the first child for both of them.

"Today I'm a mum, it's happened. I was a bit shocked at the start."

Joseph said she asked maternity staff to double-check her son to make sure he was healthy, and he is — just a bit small.

The day before baby arrived, Joseph had back pain the whole day, which she thought were period cramps.

She had an early night and slept well, until being woken in the early hours with more back pain.

Gotz works as a fisherman and Joseph works picking oranges, maize de-tassling and riding a harvest machine.

No one guessed or suggested she might be pregnant.

Joseph was adamant there had better be no more unexpected arrivals. She would quite like some scans and a midwife next time, she said.

Between Gisborne Hospital, Turanga Health and heaps of whanau support, this new family have everything they need and will be going home today.

Puawai Aroha Maternity Unit director of midwifery and clinical midwife manager Elizabeth Lee Taylor said the unit did not have any statistics on women giving birth who did not know they were pregnant, but confirmed "it does happen from time to time".

- Gisborne Herald