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Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Page: 1190


Mr HOWARTH (Petrie) (21:05): I recently had the pleasure of meeting two women who came to my office to speak to me about birthing choices. Having a baby is one of life's great passages. I myself stood by my wife Louise over the course of her three pregnancies and three deliveries, and we now have three healthy young sons. The ladies who came to my office were Belinda Barnett from Maternity Choices Australia and Lauren Kitchener, a mother from my electorate who brought her two lovely children with her. The main issue these women raised with me was that the National Maternity Services Plan period is set to finish up this year. It started in 2010 and will run through this year, and it has produced some good results.

There is still a need in the sector for further improvement in relation to maternity services. This includes giving women in my home state of Queensland access to high-quality and consistent midwifery care to support them as they make their transition to parenthood. I am certain I have the backing of all members in saying that women who have given birth or who are about to give birth should have access to the care they require. I am glad to hear that discussions are underway at the official level to extend the National Maternity Services Plan. I know that when my wife was in labour having our first child, William, it was just two midwives and myself that were there when the birth was happening. I kept saying to the midwife, 'Is the doctor going to get here soon? Will he be here soon?' She said, 'Yeah, yeah, he'll be here soon.' In the end he did not make it but I must say that the midwives did a fantastic job in delivering my son; they are certainly very talented at what they do.

In writing this speech I contacted Sharon Armstrong, a child health nurse and lactation consultant from Embrace Life at North Lakes, a health centre based in my electorate. I asked Sharon for her insight into women's issues during pregnancy and she said that choice and support for pregnant women is important and is not always there in parts of our region. We live in a wonderful and very progressive country. That women have access to consistent care throughout their pregnancy is very important.

It is such a personal, delicate event in a woman's life. As Sharon stressed to me, having a good relationship with their midwife is essential for confident mums. They need to be in the care of a person they trust. This connection is vital to easing a woman's maternal anxiety. Currently, a pregnant woman is seen by several different people throughout her stages of maternity. It is vital that she builds relationships with people before the delivery.

Ensuring women get a choice requires a united approach between all Australian governments—state, federal and territory—all maternity health service professionals from both the public and the private sectors and Australian women and their families who use these maternity services. While some hospitals are moving faster than others in providing choice for women, I believe all hospitals understand the importance of continuity of care and moving in the right direction.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our local hospitals—the nurses, doctors, midwives and specialists who spend a good part of their lives learning about how to best care for ours. They are remarkable people. I would also like to thank Belinda from Maternity Choices Australia for the connections that she and the organisation help pregnant women and mothers form. Life, after all, is about relationships.