Outback midwives share all
CLERMONT author Paula Heelan has captured her passion for the bush, new life and those that foster it in her book, Australian Midwives.
Paula, who lives on Ulcanbah cattle station, north east of Clermont, has compiled a book of real-life stories from 13 working Australian midwives, who share their experiences of that "most commonplace, but miraculous event, the birth of a child".
Each of the midwives in the book work in extreme locations and regularly birth babies in difficult circumstances - on an airstrip, a cattle station, a dinghy "while knee-deep in water with a wary eye out for the local croc".
"I thought yes, I'd love to delve into this," she said.
"Like so many of us in rural and regional areas, I'm acutely aware of the work our medical professionals do and the lack of services they have to work with."
Paula began work on the book in August, and completed it in just a few months in time for its publishing date on March 30.
She described the making of the book as a "rollercoaster ride" having to "drop everything" to meet the quick turnaround while being there for her family in their time of need.
"At the time my husband wasn't well and my daughter was struggling with boarding school so we decided the best thing for us would be to spend the rest of the year in Brisbane closer to her and medical appointments. I thought 'how am I going to move to Brisbane and do this at the same time?'"
Rather than quit though the Central Queensland native pulled up her socks and made sure every hour of her day counted.
"While I was working pretty fast, it was such an eye-opener and not a chore at all," she said.
Paula said while the midwives' individual experiences were varied they all shared common themes such as humour, passion and a sense of adventure.
"While most births are great, each of the midwives had faced a sad time, and they all said it can take a while to overcome the tragedy," she said.
As a mother of a teenage daughter Paula wished she had written this book before giving birth, if only to have known to have more faith in her own body.
"I found that no matter where they were working they all said the ideal way to give birth was with little medical intervention, to trust in your body and thank God that medical help is there if you need."
"When I gave birth, I didn't have access to a midwife, I only saw a rural doctor in Clermont, but the local facility couldn't handle births, so I had to spend a month in Rockhampton waiting for my daughter to come, which is a long time to be away from home," she said.
"It would have been so much better had I had access to a midwife closer to home."