Midwives and nursing staff at Blacktown Hospital were right to attempt to send home a woman who went on to give birth alone in a ward, a leading Australian professor of midwifery says.
Hannah Dahlen, who is also the national spokeswoman for the Australian College of Midwives, said Kristy Jones was likely in pre-labour when she went to Blacktown Hospital on Tuesday morning.
Ms Jones said she insisted she was in pain and would not leave, so she was put in a maternity ward, not the birthing unit. About 18 hours later she gave birth to a baby girl with no staff to support her, Ms Jones said.
But as Ms Jones didn’t give birth until the next day, that showed she didn't have to be urgently admitted to the birthing unit and midwives were correct in their initial assessment, Professor Dahlen said.
"One of the first things a midwife would do when a woman comes to hospital in labour is a vaginal examination, and until the cervix is at least four centimetres dilated and there are painful, frequent contractions, you are not in labour," she said.
If we admitted every woman to hospital who was in pre-labour, the wards would be crammed
"Pre-labour can last up to a week, and if we admitted every woman to hospital who was in pre-labour, the wards would be crammed and there would be terrible birthing outcomes."
The public needed to be educated that some labours do happen very quickly, she said.
"I heard of one woman who was standing at her kitchen sink doing the dishes and the baby just dropped out.
"There are double the number of unintended home births than planned ones because there are a group of women who give birth very quickly before they even think about going to hospital."
However, she agreed there was a midwife shortage across the country, which led to registered nurses not as trained in childbirth having to step in to fill the shortages, she said.
The acting director of nursing and midwifery for Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospital, David Simmonds, said the unit was fully staffed when Ms Jones gave birth, and that she was regularly monitored throughout the night.
"We take all patient complaints seriously," he said.
"In this case staff have spoken regularly with the patient, however she has not raised a complaint.
"We are looking into this matter and as with all matters, we will investigate it thoroughly."
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