29 April 2024

Weipa birthing announcement big win for expectant Liz

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Elizabeth Weidman

Expecting mum Liz Weidman says she is looking forward to a positive birthing experience in her hometown after Weipa Hospital announced the reintroduction of birthing services after a 25-year hiatus. Photo: Chisa Hasegawa.

Weipa mother of two Liz Weidman had to travel to Atherton to birth her sons and was planning to do the same with baby number three until the announcement Weipa Hospital would be reintroducing birthing services from next month.

Ms Weidman, who is due in July, got news that she would have the option to give birth in her hometown with the commencement of Weipa’s new birthing service from 22 May.

The announcement by Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service (TCHHS) is a major coup for the hospital, with local birthing services being a notable absence from the township for 25 years.

Ms Weidman will be one of at least 18 women who will be able to give birth in the western Cape region between June and August if they choose.

“It’s still sinking in that it’s an option,” she said.

“The fact that I can be at home with my support, with my family, I can feel confident about having a birth experience that’s going to be positive.

“There’s no place like home and Weipa is my home.”

The expectant mother said, in a monumental time like birth, it was difficult to be without the support of family and community.

READ ALSO ‘Basic human right’ returns to Weipa after 25 years

“In most cases, you do have to leave your partner behind, because they can’t come with you, so it can be quite discomforting and stressful,” Ms Weidman said.

“[At] 36 weeks you are required to leave Weipa; you’ve got to organise accommodation, a rental car, [and] you’ve got to re-engage into whatever hospitals you’re going to.

“I was lucky Atherton is quite familiar to me; it’s where I grew up but, that said, I still found it quite difficult to be away from home.”

TCHHS director of midwifery Michelle O’Connor said the announcement came on the back of a sustained recruitment effort, adding the service would provide western Cape York women with a chance to birth close to family, friends and cultural support.

“I’d like to thank women and families in Weipa and the surrounding area for their understanding as we worked towards introducing a safe and sustainable birthing service at Weipa Integrated Health Service,’’ Ms O’Connor said.

“Recruitment of the team has been challenging, however, we are confident we can now we can get on with providing a birthing service for women and families.

“The is about making sure rural and remote women get the best possible care, and I am very cognisant and aware of the cultural importance of birthing and how important that is for remote women.”

The new birthing unit is expected to initially support about 50 births a year for Weipa and surrounding communities, including Napranum, Aurukun and Mapoon.

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