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A Central Queensland paramedic who spent three months in hospital before giving birth to her healthy baby girl Eloise has thanked the medical team at Mater Mothers’ Private Brisbane for the vital care they received.
Yeppoon mother-of-three Kate was just 26 weeks pregnant with baby Eloise when she was flown to Brisbane by the Royal Flying Doctor Service after experiencing contractions at Mater Private Hospital Rockhampton in June.
Doctors told Kate, 31, she was at risk of giving birth early after being admitted with influenza A and pneumonia, causing a “huge amount of stress on her body”.
After arriving in Brisbane, Kate was transported in an ambulance to Mater Mothers’ Private Brisbane where for the next three months a specialist medical and midwifery team cared for her and her unborn baby around-the-clock.
Shining a spotlight on World Prematurity Day (17 November), Kate said she felt “lucky” having avoided giving birth to a third premature baby.
Her two older children aged 4, and 2, were born at 34 and 36 weeks’ gestation due to contractions caused by irritable uterus causing her cervix to dilate.
She said bedrest, medication to stop labour progressing and a team who were “by her side every step of the way” made Eloise’s arrival more comfortable.
“Everything happened quickly, and I felt stressed being so far away from my two children and husband,” Kate said.
“From the moment I arrived, the care was outstanding.
“I cannot fault my stay at all, and I owe so much to all the medical team at Mater Mothers’ Private Brisbane involved in my care.
“Everyone made me feel so supported. The midwives were angels and became like my family on the ward.
“I really couldn’t have got through this journey without them, and I can’t thank enough Dr Leanne Chapman who was my obstetrician throughout my stay, and Dr Kellie Tatham who was on call and delivered Eloise safely.”
With her husband Jaye living more than 600km away, Kate said family support was limited during her hospital stay.
“I didn’t get to see my children for the whole time I was in Brisbane as we wanted to keep their routine and life back home as normal as possible,” she said.
“It was very hard. My husband flew down once throughout that time, and thankfully made it to the birth.
“I was very emotional being away from my family.”
Kate said Mater’s social workers and occupational therapy teams also provided her with ongoing support.
“The social workers and occupational therapy team were amazing and brought books and toys for me to play with the kids and read to them over Face Time,” she said.
“I attended the occupational therapy classes on level 10 every week and I met some other mothers who I am now life-long friends with.
“I was very big on maintaining a healthy mental wellbeing, and so were the staff at the hospital.”
Managing to keep little Eloise safe and sound until almost 38 week’s gestation, Kate said her daughter was born at Mater Mothers’ Private Brisbane on September 6, weighing 3.19kg.
“This wasn’t our first time going through this process so I guess we were well prepared for what may happen, but it still doesn’t make it any easier,” she said.
“I was prepared for the worst-case scenario, that being, my baby may be born at 26 weeks.
“We were informed of all risks. Every week was scary knowing what could happen, but the further we got along the more reassuring things became.
“I am forever grateful for the team at Mater Mothers’ Hospital, our little girl is here safe and sound, and healthy,” she said.
Each year more than 2,000 very sick and premature babies receive around-the-clock specialist care from the team in Mater Mothers’ Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU).
Professor Sailesh Kumar, from Mater Mothers' Fetal Growth Assessment Clinic, said babies born prematurely have higher risks of adverse long-term neurological outcomes than babies born at term.
“The earlier in gestation a baby is born, the more complications of prematurity you have to contend with,” Prof Kumar said.
Prof Sailesh Kumar who leads the Genesis Maternal Fetal Medicine Research Group at Mater Research and the Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic, said from 39 weeks gestation was the “sweet spot” for any pregnancy.
“This is when maternal and perinatal outcomes are optimal,” Prof Kumar said.
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