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Expectant mum Katie Halliday with Dr Kathy Niven (left) and her midwife Crystal Peake (right)

New service improves antenatal care for Aboriginal families

05 Feb 2020


A new Aboriginal maternity clinic operating from the St Marys Community Heath Centre is providing expectant mums with greater continuity of antenatal care, including for some high risk pregnancies.

Continuity of midwifery care is when a single, known midwife accompanies a woman throughout the duration of her pregnancy.

What’s unique about the Aboriginal maternity clinic at St Marys is the inclusion of a dedicated obstetric consultant, enabling women with more complex or high risk pregnancies to gain access to the continuous care model.

The new clinic is also able to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies with holistic and culturally appropriate support in a relaxed and friendly environment.

“The whole plan is about continuity, understanding and trust,” says Dr Kathy Niven who is the clinic’s obstetric consultant.

"At a hospital clinic a woman may be seen by a different person each visit so there can be a lack of personal continuity. A service like this offers that sort of continuity, while at the same being more convenient and accessible for women,” says Dr Niven.

Expectant mum Katie sees a number of benefits from accessing the clinic which opened its doors in October 2019.

“Sometimes going to the hospital is confronting, but this doesn’t feel like a hospital - it’s a lot more comfy and family friendly,” says Katie.

“It’s also much more convenient for me, and with the same midwife you don’t have to give your whole life story every time.”

Katie’s midwife Crystal Peake, who trained at Nepean Hospital and has also worked with the Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service, says that the model can help build valuable relationships of rapport and trust.

“It’s fantastic working with women that you get to know so well,” says Crystal, who is a Registered Midwife.

Katie, who also had continuous midwifery care from Crystal over the course of a previous pregnancy, says that she couldn’t imagine a better option.

“She’s been with me through my first pregnancy and now she’ll be with me for my second. She knows my personal details and what makes me feel comfortable, so there’s no way I’d rather be with anyone else.”

Women and babies who are eligible to attend the clinic are still required to have their first antenatal visit through Nepean hospital.

After baby is born families may be referred on to other culturally appropriate support services.

For more information contact the Women and Children’s Outpatients Department on (02) 4734 2373.