Four girls and two boys delivered by Caesarean section at Belfast hospital – and the whole thing took five minutes

A woman has given birth to six babies at a hospital in Northern Ireland, equalling a British record set 26 years ago.

The sextuplets were delivered by Caesarean section at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast between 11.19am and 11.24am yesterday morning. They were said to be doing well despite being born 14 weeks early.

The births equal a record set by the Walton family in Liverpool in 1983, who had six girls. It is believed to be the first case of sextuplets ever recorded in Northern Ireland. Only one in around 4.5 million pregnancies result in sextuplets.

The four girls and two boys weighed between 1lb 7oz and 2lb 2oz and were delivered by a team of 30 medics. All six were in intensive care last night, and their mother is said to be stable. The parents have not yet been named.

Dr Clifford Mayes, who helped to deliver the babies, said: "It is an extraordinary thing to have witnessed, but you are also struck by the fact that there are little babies in intensive care."

He added that staff at the hospital had been preparing for the birth for weeks, making use of technical experts from across Northern Ireland, and confirmed that the children were not conceived through IVF.

"We have planned very carefully for today and it went as well as we had hoped it would," he said. "The care of the babies would be the care we would normally expect for any baby. This is both a happy time and a potentially difficult time."

In 1983, Janet and Graham Walton had six girls, all of whom survived and are now aged 25. Four of them are still living with their parents in Wallasey, Merseyside. Yesterday, Mr Walton said he hoped the mother and father of the six children would "enjoy every minute" of parenthood.

"I would never offer anyone advice on how to raise their children, but as a father of sextuplets, I can say a sense of humour is vital," he said.

Patricia Denvir, the lead midwife in the operation, said the procedure had gone according to plan.

"It is a very stressful situation both for our staff ... and also for the parents, but it's a situation that went very well," she said. "Both parents were very composed and they dealt with it very well. It's a very emotional time."