Mum leads midwife push

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
Melissa Ayling is a certified Hypnobirthing Australia practitioner based in Geraldton.
Camera IconMelissa Ayling is a certified Hypnobirthing Australia practitioner based in Geraldton. Credit: Tamra Carr, The Geraldton Guardian

A woman who had an unassisted birth wants local pregnant women to be able to access midwives who can care for them throughout pregnancy, labour, delivery and the postnatal period.

Glenfield resident Melissa Ayling said expectant mothers should be able to choose their own midwives and give birth wherever they wish.

Ms Ayling, who last year gave birth in a Toyota LandCruiser, said she had an unassisted accidental birth because she was not given the opportunity to give birth at home with a midwife as she wanted.

Expectant mothers in Geraldton must visit their GP obstetrician for pregnancy care and can typically only access Geraldton Hospital midwives twice throughout their pregnancy.

Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service offers a Continuity of Midwifery Carer Model, which means pregnant Aboriginal women can access ongoing care with the same public hospital-endorsed midwife throughout their pregnancy, labour, birth and access up to six weeks of postnatal care.

GRAMS is funded to provide health care for Aboriginal people.

Ms Ayling said there was a strong demand in Geraldton from women who want to access a Continuity of Midwifery Carer Model at their local public hospital.

“There’s especially a demand from women who have moved here and can’t access the same care they had before, as we’re one of the only places that doesn’t provide this model,” she said.

Ms Ayling said she and other local women had previously contacted Geraldton Hospital administrators, Health Minister Roger Cook, Member for Geraldton Ian Blayney and Member for Durack Melissa Price about the issue.

WA Country Health Service Midwest regional director Jeff Calver said Geraldton Hospital used a shared care model between GPs and hospital-based midwives.

He said WACHS was developing a new model to care for local pregnant women.

“WACHS Midwest is currently working towards the development of a Midwifery Group Practice model of care for women in Geraldton,” he said.

“The MGP model provides access to care for women, and their babies, within a small team of midwives in collaboration with obstetric doctors.”

Ms Ayling said the time was right for improved pregnancy care in Geraldton and said local women must begin to speak up about what they want.

“A lot of women aren’t supported by extended families and partners out here, because of FIFO, so it’s good for her to have access to a midwife she can confide in throughout her pregnancy journey,” Ms Ayling said.

“It’s also better for the public health system, as having access to midwives eases the burden off doctors.

“A Cochrane study showed that women who accessed midwife-led care are less likely to experience intervention and they are overall more satisfied with their care.

“As women, we have to start speaking up about what we want so they hear us,” Ms Ayling said.

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