Baby boom hoopla for St Albans netball team

Carina Hobson with Heidi 10 months, Davinia Swanston with Noah 9 months, Jo Lavin with Harvey 9 mont

Carina Hobson with Heidi 10 months, Davinia Swanston with Noah 9 months, Jo Lavin with Harvey 9 months, Lucy Auld with Matty 9 months, Jo Hughes with August 4 months, Stephanie Lane with Poppy 12 weeks, Steph Nye with Millie 7 weeks, Laura Thompson with Alfie 2 weeks - Credit: Archant

When it comes to having babies a St Albans netball team have proved they are more than game – with eight players giving birth within 12 months!

The unusual and heart-warming story has emerged from the OA 7s netballers who all hail from Harpenden and St Albans and gave birth between January and December last year.

Recently enjoying centre court - and meeting for the first time - the eight babies were donned in knitted matching outfits bearing numbers showing the order in which they were born.

And while the doting mums, aged in their 30s, were always close friends because of their shared love of the sport, having their babies one after the other has cemented their bonds even further.

Davinia Swanston, who was the second to have a baby, Noah, in February, said: “The closest births were three babies in three weeks, including Noah, who is doing brilliantly.”

The team-mates, all between 5ft 10 inches and 6 ft tall, began playing in the 2003/04 season and although they disbanded in 2012 as several moved from the district, they remained in contact.

Davinia said: “Suddenly, one said ‘I’m pregnant’ then another replied, ‘well I’m pregnant too’.

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“We thought it was hilarious and a nice coincidence. It’s crazy.”

Jo Lavin, who gave birth to Harvey - baby number three - in March, added: “It’s not like it was planned. It’s really odd, but exciting.”

Steph Nye, who gave birth to Millie Shewbridge in October, said: “What has been incredible is that we have been able to support each other. I have had a wealth of information to tap into. And it has brought us even closer.

“Hopefully the babies will become good friends.”

Lucy Auld, who welcomed Matilda into the world in March, said: “It will always bind us.”

Laura Thompson, who gave birth to Alfie in December, said she appreciated having plenty of advice on call from her fellow mums.

It was a particularly poignant get-together for Joanna Hughes who returned to St Albans from her home in America, giving her the chance to see her friends’ babies and show them hers - August - for the first time.

Joanna said: “It was surreal but lovely. Everyone seems to be a natural with their babies. August was the fifth born of the eight.”

And the mum who got the ball rolling, Carina Hobson, who gave birth to Heidi in January, said: “I have been asked for advice, which is nice, as I was the first to have a baby. But it was funny to see yet another team member pregnant.”

Stephanie Lane, whose baby Poppy was born in September, said: “It was funny because one of us would reveal she was pregnant and we would joke about it, saying there were only a few left - and then it kept happening! But it has made our friendship stronger.

“Everyone is very supportive.”

She and other former team-mates are keen to resume playing netball in the future.