CRISIS: Fears that roadside births will spike are rife as expectant mums are forced to travel hundreds of kilometres for check-ups.
CRISIS: Fears that roadside births will spike are rife as expectant mums are forced to travel hundreds of kilometres for check-ups. Kevin Farmer

Fears of roadside births plague local mums

THE lead-up to the arrival of Tessa Ferguson's second child should be one of the most exciting times in her life.

Instead, all the expectant Wandoan mum can do is worry about whether she'll be giving birth on the side of the road.

"That's all I've been worrying about since I found out I was pregnant,” Miss Ferguson told the Dalby Herald.

"It (labour) could go really fast, really slow and that's what the stressful thing is.”

Miss Ferguson, 25, is just one expectant mother bearing the brunt of a maternity crisis rocking the Western Downs, which has resulted in the closure of Chinchilla maternity services and a frighteningly close call for Dalby maternity services.

Chinchilla maternity services have been on bypass since the start of 2019.

With the closest medical service on bypass and Dalby nearly two-and-a- half hours away, Miss Ferguson will be forced to travel the 167km journey to give birth at Roma Hospital.

"Chinchilla is 10 times closer and I would have been a lot more comfortable if I did get the opportunity to go there,” Miss Ferguson said.

"It's pretty unfortunate. There's a lot of people that live near here where that's the closest place to go.

"They didn't really consider mothers who live in rural areas that need that place.”

A parliamentary estimates hearing revealed a close call for Dalby Hospital, with officials declaring the maternity services were "close” to being placed on bypass at the weekend of June 8 and 9.

Warrego MP Ann Leahy told the Dalby Herald the State Government needed to be transparent about the state of regional maternity services, especially across the Western Downs.

"The question related to one weekend,” she said.

"The Palaszczuk Labor Government should come clean with the people of Dalby as to how many other times have there been gaps in the maternity services at Dalby.

"Dalby is a major regional hospital - it cannot go on bypass and should not be 'close' to doing so.

"If the health service has lost service providers, the State Government should be working overtime to replace these providers.”

The redistribution of "DIY birthing kits” for expectant mothers living in regional areas has sent ripples of concern through the southwest.

While Miss Ferguson has not been offered a DIY birthing kit, a friend of hers was given one for the birth of her third child.

"I don't know whether they're going to offer that to me or not,” she said.

"It's a bit worrying. What if the heartbeat drops and they have to get her out straight away or the cord is wrapped around her neck?

"What if that happens and we don't have the equipment to deal with that?

"We're not medically trained for stuff like that. If something goes wrong I have to travel all that way and if I call the ambulance and they're busy, they can't help me.”

Above all, Miss Ferguson wants nothing more than the birth of her child to be obstacle-free. But that can't happen unless the maternity crisis is fixed first.

"I would love to see it get resolved,” she said.

"It's ridiculous to think that people have to travel all that way just to have their baby safely.”


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