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On-call midwives first for SA women

South Australian women experiencing early pregnancy loss symptoms can now avoid waiting for help in hospital emergency departments in an Australian-first service.

Angel Parish and her two daughters. Parish was part of the trial virtual health service for women. Photo: supplied

Angel Parish and her two daughters. Parish was part of the trial virtual health service for women. Photo: supplied

A team of experienced midwives are now on hand to give women an urgent assessment of early pregnancy loss symptoms or gynaecological concerns via video link.

Health Minister Chris Picton said a 12-month Women’s Assessment Service pilot will be overseen by the Women’s and Children’s Health Network after a successful trial gave women the option of avoiding emergency departments.

One trial participant and mother of two children Angel Parish said it was reassuring to seek help through the virtual service, with midwives immediately helping with her concerns so she did not have to arrange care for her daughters so she could travel to hospital.

“I was 12 weeks pregnant with my third child when I was experiencing some cramping and pain in my abdomen, and so I thought it best for me to just check-in with someone,” Parish said.

“Even though it’s my third pregnancy, I wasn’t sure if it was normal. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait very long to speak to a midwife, and of course it saved me having to organise care for my girls and go into the Women’s and Children’s Hospital to see someone.

“I’m now 28 weeks pregnant, and we’re so looking forward to the arrival of our baby boy.”

It’s the first service of its kind in Australia, where women can have experienced midwives make an initial assessment with an Obstetrics and Gynaecology doctor on hand either virtually or in hospital if required.

Women who are less than 20 weeks pregnant who are experiencing symptoms of pregnancy loss, women pregnant and experiencing nausea and vomiting along with those experiencing gynaecological issues can use the service.

“Pregnancy loss is a deeply personal experience, and the ability for women to manage this in the comfort and privacy of their own home instead of attending the emergency department, will go a long way in helping navigate such an incredibly difficult time,” Picton said.

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Women’s and Children’s Health Network interim chief executive officer Rebecca Graham said women can still choose to present at hospital emergency departments if they prefer but it meant they now had another option.

“There is no doubt for a woman who may be experiencing early pregnancy loss, waiting in an emergency department, or waiting to see a midwife in a clinic when surrounded by other expectant women, can be a stressful and even heartbreaking experience,” Graham said.

“Giving women a choice to receive a virtual assessment from their own home might just go some way to minimising some of this stress and anxiety.”

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