Special delivery brings relief

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PRUE Corlette travelled up to five hours a day to Liverpool Hospital from Rose Bay.

... The twins were born nine weeks premature at Liverpool Hospital ... not at The Royal Hospital for Women as she intended.

When Ms Corlette went into early labour, there was no room in the Randwick hospital where her midwife and obstetrician were.

Their 15 high-care cots in the neonatal intensive care unit were all occupied but there were ones available at Liverpool, Canberra and Newcastle hospitals — the closest one Liverpool, 45 kilometres away.

"My midwife and obstetrician (from the Royal Hospital for Women) couldn't come with me," ...

... "I had built up a good rapport with my obstetrician ... We had similar philosophies of birth.

"When I got to Liverpool, the birth philosophy was quite different. They wouldn't even give me a hot water bottle."

Theodore arrived first, then Hugo was born through an emergency caesarean section.

"I had a succession of different doctors see me," ...

"To be going into premature labour and to not have a consultant is terrible.

"My second baby got into some kind of distress. I heard people screaming 'code red' but no one explained to me what was happening."

Ms Corlette was discharged after three days but the twins remained at Liverpool Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit for another 10 days.

Having undergone a caesarean she was not allowed to drive so she had to make the long trip from her home on public transport.

"The staff in the neonatal unit were very helpful but the maternity ward not so good. It was very busy and overcrowded," ...

The babies were transferred to the Royal Hospital for Women when cots became available.

... "Liverpool Hospital has a well-staffed and resourced 12-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which is one of a number of NICUs in NSW that provide specialised care for premature and very sick babies from across the state," ...

... neonatal intensive care beds are networked to ensure that whenever an expectant mother gives birth, she and her baby have access to the specialist care required. "This may result in the transfer from one hospital to another due to the level of care required or bed availability."

If I were Prue, I'd be thankful that care was available for my babies, that I did not have to be flown to Canberra (or further - say to Perth), and that we live in a country that provides such a high standard of care to mothers and babies. She did not get the care she had planned from the midwife and obstetrician that she had chosen and this was not expected, but thankfully a transfer was possible to a hospital that could provide the necessary care. Had her babies been born at RHW, they could not have received the care they needed as there were no cots available in the NICU, and presumably no staff available to care for the babies.

For some women, a transfer will be needed. This could be because the hospital doesn't have the facilities to care for the baby - such as a private hospital or a small public hospital - or because the larger public hospital's NICU is full. It's not possible to staff every unit with NICU-qualified staff 24/7 and obtain and maintain the very specialised equipment that is needed so seldom. Hence, these specialised services are provided in a few centres. In Sydney, we are proud to have 6 hospitals with NICU facilities. These hospitals provide a high standard of care to preterm babies, as measured by international standards. We are lucky to live in a country where our babies can be cared for so well.