Mater helps to lower risk of preterm births for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families

A birthing program established by Mater and two other health organisations in South East Queensland, has almost halved the risk of preterm birth rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies.

Results have been published in the Lancet’s eClinical Medical Journal highlighting significantly improved results for women having a baby through the Birthing in Our Community program.

Birthing in Our Community was established in 2013 by Mater, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service Brisbane in response to a need for women who are pregnant with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander baby to access culturally and clinically safe care throughout their pregnancy and at birth.

Lead researcher, Mater Research Institute-The University of Queensland’s Professor Sue Kildea said the results were unprecedented.

“This service was built on the best available evidence, knowing that nationally the preterm rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies have not reduced since Closing the Gap was announced in 2008.

“To see such positive results is extraordinary.

“Every mum accessing Birthing in Our Community gets their own Mater midwife 24/7 working side-by-side with a multidisciplinary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce to make sure all our women feel confident and safe to access the care they need for themselves and their babies.

“The program aims to strengthen families, as well as develop the workforce to ensure all staff are culturally capable of caring for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families,” she said.

Mother-of-three Rebekah Hauiti went through the Birthing in Our Community program for all three pregnancies and it’s a decision she’s thankful she made.

“After my first experience with Birthing in Our Community I knew this was the path I wanted for my other pregnancies. I couldn’t imagine accessing antenatal care any other way.

“Being able to have continuity of care with one midwife meant the world to me.  We were very close and I trusted her, knowing that my wishes for my birth would be heard.

Ms Hauiti had all three of her babies at Mater Mothers’ Hospital, her third only four months ago weighing a healthy 3.5 kg.

She recommended other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to access the service.

“Birthing in our Community is a wonderful experience not only from a medical point of view but also culturally.  I have learnt so much about my culture from Aunties in the community.

“The service is really beneficial for women that may not access consistent care. 

The support you receive from the midwife makes you want to come back for your appointments and follow through on their advice,” Ms Hauiti said.

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