Joeleen Carriage and four-week-old Rylee are among the first to benefit from the newly appointed Aboriginal midwife
Joeleen Carriage and four-week-old Rylee are among the first to benefit from the newly appointed Aboriginal midwife

Help for expectant mums

THE pain of childbirth will always be there, but at least for Aboriginal women in the Clarence Valley they now have a midwife to call their own, making the process a lot easier.

Laurel Moore was appointed Aboriginal midwife in October as part of the Aboriginal Maternal and Infant Health Strategy (AMIHS) and her books are filling up fast, with nine new referrals to the service just this week.

“We’re aiming to see women by 18 weeks of pregnancy in order to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies,” Mrs Moore said.

“It’s been beautiful setting up something that wasn’t here before and is appropriate for this community,” she said.

She is joined this week by Aboriginal health officer Stephanie Mercy, who grew up in Yaegl country and will act as a vital community liaison person between mums and the maternal health practitioners that they rely on.

Together they alternate between Maclean and Grafton community health centres and make home visits to all corners of the Clarence Valley.

Equipped with a Doppler monitor, the women can deliver a comprehensive antenatal assessment and accompany pregnant women to a GP or specialist.

By March they hope to be one of the first services operating out of the new women’s health centre in the Hillcrest community, Maclean, and also setting up outreach clinics at Pippi Beach, Yamba and Camellia Cottage, Grafton.

“The Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) is hoping to establish an office in Maclean that will help further to link services in the Lower Clarence and enable pregnant women to be accessed earlier on,” Mrs Moore said.

Aboriginal midwifery up until now has not enjoyed its own specialists in the Clarence Valley and for many pregnant women the problems of transport and GP costs would deter them from regular check-ups.

And while the Clarence Valley is one of the last areas in the North Coast to benefit from Aboriginal Maternal and Infant Health Strategy, it’s also the only area to have two full-time positions provided.

In other areas there’s only part-timers – still, that’s only two women for the whole Clarence Valley.

Joeleen Carriage is not a newcomer to mothering, giving birth to her fourth baby, Rylee, four weeks ago.

However, she’s been saved a few trips to Grafton and home postnatal visits this pregnancy.

The service has taken the stress out of finding transport and care for her other children while she receives check-ups.



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