No matter where they live, pregnant women deserve the best quality antenatal support. Fortunately for Aboriginal women in the New England region of northern New South Wales, the Armidale Aboriginal Mothers and Babies Service is there to help.
The Armidale Aboriginal Mothers and Babies Service has been helping women through pregnancy and birth for over 10 years. In that time, nearly 500 women, either Aboriginal mothers or partners of Aboriginal fathers, have received antenatal care, including one mother who used the Service for all of her 10 children.
The aim is to provide support and assistance wherever possible to ensure Aboriginal clients are comfortable in the hospital and/or healthcare setting. The Service consists of a fulltime Aboriginal Health Education Officer and a part-time midwife who provide pregnancy care, education and advocacy within the health system and the wider community. As well as Armidale, services are also provided to the nearby towns of Guyra, Uralla and Walcha, who lack their own antenatal support services.
During pregnancy, visits to the labour ward are offered as well as education and preparation for labour, with a flexible approach.
The service has been improving breast feeding rates, reducing smoking during pregnancy and improving immunisation rates for Aboriginal children. Most of all though, it is making expectant mothers feel safe and supported during pregnancy and birth.