ACT News


Empowered mums reflect maternity practice change

WHEN babies were born in Canberra 40 years ago, women gave birth lying on their backs and an epidural could have been something from a science-fiction novel.

Now there are ultrasounds, more caesarean sections and midwives do not need to use a Pinard's stethoscope - a device designed in 1895 - to listen to the heartbeat of a child in utero.

The only things to stay the same across four decades are some of the nurses.

About 150 midwives and doctors who worked at the Woden Valley maternity unit between 1973 and 1991 held a reunion last weekend.

The two maternity wards merged under the Canberra Hospital banner two decades ago.

And some of those nurses are still working today at the newly minted Centenary Women's and Children's Hospital, according to reunion organiser Nola Wong, who is one of them.

Ms Wong, a midwife for 42 years and now working within the new unit, said mothers today were empowered, one of the biggest changes she had seen during her career.

Women changed position much more during labour now - walking around, squatting - and they were encouraged to look upon birth differently.

''Women are amazing creatures,'' she said. ''If they look at birth as a normal event in their lives, they do it really, really well.'