10 May 2023

Birthing group ready for road trip around Cape

| Matt Nicholls
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Chloe McLeod, pictured with baby Keely, is a massive supporter of the Weipa Midwifery Group Practice and supports birthing services in the town.

COMMUNITY engagement sessions will be held across Cape York this month ahead of the opening of Weipa’s birthing services.

The team behind the new Weipa Birthing Midwifery Group Practice will hit the road next week to raise awareness about the service.

“We want the communities and the local people to understand what the service is,” said Alison Weatherstone, the Torres and Cape’s acting director of midwifery.

“Each community brings its own challenges and opportunities.

“We also want to hear from women about how they are feeling about the new service and answer any questions they might have.”

As it stands, Cape York women usually fly to Cairns when they are around 36 weeks pregnant.

When the new Weipa birthing service comes online in August, the health service is hoping most of the expecting mothers will stay in the region.

For those living in Weipa and Napranum – and possibly Mapoon – they could stay at home until they go into labour.

But for women in communities such as Aurukun, Lockhart River, Coen, Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw, they may come to Weipa at 36 weeks, rather than Cairns.

“This is going to give them more choice,” Ms Weatherstone told Cape York Weekly.

“When you go out to Cairns you can take one support person but if you went to Weipa it might be a lot easier to have family come and visit you.

“For those in a community like Aurukun which is only a couple of hours away from Weipa, an expecting mother could have a number of visitors both before and after giving birth.”

The Weipa birthing service will also allow mothers to remain in the care of a known midwife and multidisciplinary team throughout pregnancy, birth and after the baby is born.

Ms Weatherstone said the community visits would allow them to meet with local mayors and councils and speak directly to members of the public to give them information about the new service.

The team will visit Weipa, Mapoon, Napranum, Aurukun, Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw on this trip, with another trip to Lockhart River and Coen planned for the coming weeks.

“It’s so important for us that women and families know this service is available to them,” Ms Weatherstone said.

“Being able to give birth closer to home is such a comfort for women in what is an exciting and at times a little overwhelming period of their lives and we cannot wait to support more families locally through their pregnancy and parenting journey.”

Weipa mum Chloe McLeod was part of the MGP program leading up to the birth of her baby Keely in early March and, while she had to travel to Townsville for birth, raved about the support she was given during the pregnancy and after her daughter was born.

“My experience with the MGP care in Weipa has been nothing short of fantastic,” she said.

“The genuine care and support from my midwife throughout my pregnancy was great. Then to be able to come home to continued support from them, having already built that trust, is even better.

“It means one less worry when trying to learn how to be a mum. I feel lucky to have such quality care in Weipa.”

* TORRES and Cape Hospital and Health Service chief executive Bev Hamerton and other high-ranking members of the team will be in Weipa next Tuesday to discuss the future of the hospital.

To be held at the Weipa Motel, the information sessions will give clarity on the master plan for the health hub.

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