A Queensland academic says the number of children born before their mothers could get to hospital has more than doubled in the past decade.
The professor of midwifery at the Australian Catholic University, Sue Kildea, says the number has risen from 79 in 2000 to 359 in 2008.
Professor Kildea told the Australian College of Midwifery conference on the Gold Coast about half of Queensland's non-metropolitan maternity services have closed in the same period.
"Their local units have closed down and women have had to travel much further than they used to in the past and so they are not getting to the hospital in time," she said.
"The births happened quickly and the births happened well, but it is much better for women to have skilled providers.
"We call them skilled providers, so midwives by their side during labour and during birth just in case anything does happen, so it is still an ideal circumstance."
"A lot of the Indigenous elders that I have worked with are saying what we are doing around birth at the moment is actually causing some of the poor statistics that we have in maternal infant health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Australia."
In non-rural and remote areas, the question needs to be asked: why women are delaying going to hospital until the very last minute. Perhaps this is also a sign that our hospital policies are unacceptable to women and so they are choosing to wait "as long as possible" before leaving for hospital.