JOINING FORCES: Local mothers and women rally outside Emerald Hospital for improved CQ maternity services.
JOINING FORCES: Local mothers and women rally outside Emerald Hospital for improved CQ maternity services. Jessica Dorey

Laboured wait spurs rally

FIONA Bailey planned to have her second child via vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) at Emerald Hospital.

One phone call two weeks before her due date changed everything.

During the call Ms Bailey was informed she could no longer have a VBAC at the hospital without agreeing to strict conditions surrounding the birth.

"I was aware of the risks associated with a VBAC but they told me I had to agree to having labour in an operating room and many other conditions,” she said. "They told me everything negative that could happen.”

Feeling cornered, Ms Bailey followed the advice of medical staff.

"I wasn't happy but I had no choice but to accept that it was going to happen,” she said.

After the birth of her son, Ms Bailey said she had spoken to Emerald Hospital staff and felt reassured that other women would not go through what she had.

"And then I found out that it has still been going on, I'd hate someone else to go through what I did.”

Ms Bailey's story is one of many that local representative for the Maternity Consumer Network Latisha Ryder has been told.

On Tuesday Mrs Ryder led a rally at Rotary Park where mothers gathered to share experiences and bring awareness of the treatment they have received when opting to have a vaginal birth after caesarean.

Their voices echoed through the park, eager to gain improvements to the Emerald Hospital maternity services.

In January, after a number of frustrated women placed in the same situation came forward, CQHHS held a community forum to discuss the birthing issue.

The public was told there would be a review of maternity services at the hospital.

CQ News approached CQHHS about the claims at the rally.

Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Central Queensland Hospital Health Service Sue Foyle said the safety of women and their babies was the number one priority and each birth recommendation was made on a case-by-case basis.

"Emerald Hospital continues to provide a VBAC service,” she said.

"There are several benefits to VBAC, but it does carry a risk of the previous caesarean scar rupturing during labour.

"This is an emergency situation that can very quickly put the life of the woman in danger through excessive internal bleeding and jeopardises the safety of the baby by cutting off the supply of oxygen.

"Emerald Hospital is a small rural facility that is a three-hour drive away from specialist obstetric support.”

Ms Foyle said, in some cases, CQHHS recommended a VBAC as a safer option at Rockhampton Hospital where specialist support and expertise was readily available.

"Ultimately it is a woman's choice where she gives birth and it is important for us to provide as many services as close to home for Central Queenslanders, while always maintaining the safety and well-being of mothers and babies.

"We really want to avoid a situation where a woman's and/or her baby's life is in danger three hours away from specialist support.

"I did undertake a review in January which included a consumer forum, comments from which were integrated into my report,” Ms Foyle said.

"The report contains confidential patient information and therefore will not be shared publicly.

"Recommendations will be implemented over the next year.”

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