The long wait is over for Alison Heffernan with baby Ruby, Saindi Brown with baby Arlia and Rachel Bryant with baby Grace.
The long wait is over for Alison Heffernan with baby Ruby, Saindi Brown with baby Arlia and Rachel Bryant with baby Grace. Blainey Woodham

Baby ward campaigners celebrate

FRIENDS of the Tweed Valley Birthing Service have welcomed the announcement of the re-opening of Murwillumbah Hospital's birth service for low risk mothers from October.

As recommended by Maternity Choice advocates, midwifery academics and consumer representative Rachel Bryant, midwives will lead the ward by delivering babies and by being responsible for the resuscitation of neonates.

Previously a visiting doctor was rostered on-call for neonate resuscitation, and now midwives will receive further advanced training to perform that role.

"Obviously we're delighted," Ms Bryant said. "It's been an anxious wait for us from Wednesday when the board met to decide on our recommendations."

"I don't think there was any harm done in doing the review - it was a very well thought out, methodical process and it's had an invaluable outcome."

Academics Carolyn Hastie, Ann Kinnear, Lesley Barclay and Sue Kruske provided the evidence and support that enabled this service to be re-instated.

"It's wonderful to see the health service fully embracing and implementing the Towards Normal Birth policy at Murwillumbah," Ms Hastie said.

The Southern Cross Senior Lecturer in Midwifery said evidence showed that when women birthed in small, local community centres it was safer and cheaper.

"The midwifes are already operating at an advanced level and the fact that they're having more training is fantastic. It is wonderful that the health system is taking responsibility for that.

"The other exciting thing is now that women can self refer, making it a much easier process for the women."

Maternity Choices Director Leah Hardiman took to social media to thank politicians and health administrators for their support.

"Thank you to Chris Crawford - Chief Executive of NNSW Health Service District - for his dedication in partnering with consumers in a meaningful, respectful and supportive manner," she wrote.

The Northern Rivers Greens yesterday congratulated community campaigners for their success.

"We were appalled to learn about the closure of the Murwillumbah birth unit very soon after the March state election," Adam Guise, Northern Rivers Greens spokesperson said.

"From the moment the community learned about the closure, they have banded together and campaigned strongly to secure its reopening.

"Their efforts have not been in vain and today's announcement by the Northern NSW Local Health District to reinstate birth services at Murwillumbah is a tribute to their success." 

This week's announcement also marks a win for The Tweed Daily News' campaign for the birth service to re-open. Here are the stories we ran:

Sep 3: Mur'bah baby ward to re-open in October

Aug 21: Review calls for Mur'bah birth service to re-open

Aug 10: Mur'bah birth ward decision on its way

July 22: Health officials 'listen' to mums

July 14: Midwife-led birthing service talked up

July 6: Youth pollie takes ward closure to NSW parliament

July 5: Health CEO responds to midwife claims

July 4: Doctor power struggle over Mur'bah birthing service

June 13: Health service telling 'untruths'

June 3: More than 120 protest against ward closure

June 4: Premier Mike Baird defends Mur'bah birth ward closure

June 2: Lismore MP will not attend birth ward rally

May 30: Birthing unit 'review' prompts protest

May 27: Expectant mothers to be turned away

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