No support ... Kristy Jones with her daughter. Photo: Channel Nine
A woman was forced to give birth alone at a major Sydney hospital, at one stage taking painkillers from her own handbag.
When Kristy Jones arrived in labour at Blacktown Hospital on Tuesday morning, she was taken to the birthing unit. A few hours later she was told she wasn't ready and to go home.
Ms Jones insisted she was in pain and didn't want to leave, so nurses took her to the maternity ward. At 11pm, her family were told to leave because visiting hours were over.
Ms Jones said she asked staff several times for pain relief but was given only four Panadol and an Endone tablet. At one stage she took Panadol from her handbag.
At 2.15am the next morning, she delivered her own baby girl.
"I was left alone just to be in pain and deliver a baby by myself," Ms Jones told Channel 9 News. "I could have had more support at home."
An expectant mother sharing the room was woken by Ms Jones's moaning and pressed the emergency button before getting up to help. She told Channel 9 the baby was not breathing and was lying face down in amniotic fluid.
"I took it out of the fluid and gave the baby a rub and wrapped it up in some towels," she said.
It took between five and 10 minutes for nurses to come to assist, she said, despite the nursing station being about 20 steps away from the room.
The state opposition health spokesman, Andrew McDonald, said Ms Jones deserved an apology from the health minister, Jillian Skinner.
"This was a highly dangerous near-miss," Dr McDonald said. "The minister needs to apologise to the mother and explain the staffing levels on the ward that night. It doesn't sound like there were adequate staff on that shift."
It could be hard for clinicians to immediately tell how far along a woman was into labour, he said, adding that with adequate staffing that can be corrected through regular check-ins with the patient.
A $775 million cut to the health system over four years, including $89 million in the first year, was already being felt, he said.
In a statement, Ms Skinner said she was pleased Ms Jones and her daughter were now doing well. "I'm advised Western Sydney Local Health District is investigating the circumstances surrounding this birth," she said.
The acting director of nursing and midwifery, David Simmonds, said the unit was fully staffed that night and Ms Jones had been regularly monitored.
"Birth can be unpredictable and can at times come on quite quickly," he said. "We will investigate [the incident] thoroughly."
While many mums in the Essential Baby forum are shocked at the events, others believe it was an unusual case dealt with as best as possible.
"I think it is very sad but my first birth was like that. I was lying quietly on the bed when I sad to the midwife I think I need to push," one user wrote. "She got up to have a feel and saw the head. It was panic stations from then so I can understand how it could happen, especially being her first."
Many put the blame firmly on understaffing, with one saying, "While I feel sorry for the women, I hate the fact it will be blamed on the [midwives] and nurses when really they were probably doing the best they could."
See what others have to say and join the conversation on the Essential Baby forum.