Melanie Harris, of Laidley, with her 10-month-old son Thomas Bumpstead, who was born at home during the coronavirus pandemic. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel
Melanie Harris, of Laidley, with her 10-month-old son Thomas Bumpstead, who was born at home during the coronavirus pandemic. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel

Growing demand: Push for Lockyer Valley birthing facilities

If Laidley mother Melanie Harris had opted to give birth in hospital, it’s likely she would have never made it on time.

Her son Thomas wanted a quick entry to the world, and after a short 40-minute labour, he arrived with the help of a private midwife at Melanie’s home.

Had Melanie opted for a hospital delivery she said it would have been on the side of the road heading to Toowoomba around midnight.

The scary realisation she could have given birth on the side of the road comes as Lockyer Valley mums are forced to deliver babies in neighbouring cities because local hospitals don’t have birthing suites.

“I chose to have a home birth because I gave birth during COVID Lockdown,” Melanie said.

Melanie Harris, of Laidley, with her 10-month-old son Thomas Bumpstead, who was born at home during the coronavirus pandemic. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel
Melanie Harris, of Laidley, with her 10-month-old son Thomas Bumpstead, who was born at home during the coronavirus pandemic. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel

“Even If I wanted to choose a hospital birth, I wouldn’t have made it.”

A recent post on the Gatton Star Facebook page asking readers if the Lockyer Valley needed birthing facilities was strongly backed by local mums.

With neither Laidley or Gatton hospitals offering birthing facilities, mums are forced to travel to Ipswich, Toowoomba or Brisbane to deliver their newborns.

Melanie, a mum of four, said a 40-minute drive to Toowoomba or Ipswich was too far and anything could happen during that time frame.

“We’re meant to move forward not backwards. The area is starting to boom, and we’ve got people coming from the city moving here,” she said.

“What if something goes wrong?”

Emergency and birthing facilities within the Lockyer Valley hospital has been in the mind of mayor Tanya Milligan since she was elected to council’s leading role.

Cr Milligan, who has lived in the Lockyer Valley her whole life, was forced to have her children in Toowoomba with neither hospital offering birthing options.

“Why shouldn’t our community have what others have? It’s a given for other communities,” Cr Milligan said.

“For first-time mum’s of course they want to have babies in their region – it makes it easy for family and friends to come and support you.”

Lockyer Valley Regional Council mayor Tanya Milligan. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel
Lockyer Valley Regional Council mayor Tanya Milligan. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel

Following multiple talks with West Moreton Health, Cr Milligan said the projected population growth for the next 15 years was staggering, and hospital admissions would increase dramatically.

In 2014-15, Laidley and Gatton had a combined 27030 hospital admissions.

By 2036, it’s anticipated hospital admissions will reach 60,000.

“In 15 years’ time we will be serving about 150,000 people,” Cr Milligan said.

Cr Milligan said the concerning aspect about developing a regional hospital was securing land for the project.

“I know how quickly Plainland is developing, and I think it’s really important a block is secured now,” she said.

“Because if they leave it too late the most appropriate position won’t be there, someone else will purchase it.”

West Moreton Health has been contacted for comment.


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