Page 215 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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MRS JONES (Molonglo) (5.04): I rise today to speak in support of Mr Hanson’s motion calling for an open and transparent review into the women and children’s hospital. I arrived in Canberra as a defence wife in January 2006, one of the hottest summers Canberra has ever experienced. It was at the end of the drought. I was eight months pregnant with my first child. We did not have a house and our car was on a train being moved from the NT.

I spent the last month of my pregnancy moving into a house while developing pre-eclampsia and desperately trying to work out how the hospital system worked. We had barely any money. Moving house interstate is a very expensive business. I went in for a public midwife appointment and I was told my blood pressure was up and I was not going to go home. I was going to be admitted to the maternity ward pending a decision about what was wrong with me and if my baby was okay. I was in a new city, I knew no-one and I was about to learn about how stressful birth and a new baby can be.

To cut a long story short, after days of careful monitoring and an attempt at an induction which left my baby’s heart rate fluctuating wildly, my beloved little Felix was born at 5.30 am by way of an emergency caesarean section. I had an adverse reaction to the drugs I was administered. I was deeply disappointed that I had developed pre-eclampsia and that I had several layers of surgical scar as well as a hungry baby who was too weak to easily feed. I experienced every emotion under the sun, including deep sadness, great joy, anger, fear and anxiety.

Several days after the birth, I remember realising that I had to finally find a way of getting this baby to feed or I could not go home. I did not have the money to afford formula at that time and had to find a way of learning to feed this baby who would not latch on properly. It took me several nights and a nurse who I still to this day believe was an angel in disguise, to help me know how to feed my child. It was one of the most testing times of my life.

I went home after four or five days and I was dealing with the strong distress about the birth, physical wounds of having undergone major surgery and the needs of a newborn baby. Now, I do not tell this story to elicit pity. I am telling it because it is a common Canberra tale. Of all my friends who have had babies around the same time, at least half of them have experienced serious complications with either the birth or with getting used to the idea of having a baby to care for. Some of my friends have had severe issues learning how to breastfeed and some had babies who would not sleep at all.

This is why the issues being faced by the new women and children’s hospital are of deep concern to me. For women who have spent years in the workforce and then are having their babies a little later in life, as is the norm these days in Canberra, the statistics of complication are much higher. By the nature of the professional demographic of capable women we have here, there is clearly a higher incidence of complex birth scenarios.

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