Date:3.49 PM WEDNESDAY, 8 September 1999
Member:Turnbull, Dr Hilda
Page:885 / 1

increased; the mother then is more likely to proceed to a situation where a caesarean section is necessary. Currently, in the private sector in Western Australia, an older mother having her first baby has an almost 50 per cent chance of having a caesarean section; that is an astounding statistic. This shows how the cascade of events is set in train and is compounded by the initial decision made by the mother and her family about who will manage her pregnancy.

I will tell the House about an older mother in Australia who had her first baby not very long ago. She had a very successful pregnancy with, obviously, very high quality antenatal care and much advice and support. She went through the birthing process very smoothly and now has a beautiful baby; that is Elle Macpherson. Elle Macpherson's experience was published in the Women's Weekly.

Mr Baker interjected.

Dr TURNBULL: Yes, she was interviewed about how the pregnancy moved along and how confident she was with the support she received that she could have a natural childbirth without the fear that she would have a caesarean section or any other intervention. These are the things we need to accentuate to people to show that having a baby is a very natural event; that an older mother having a first baby is natural and there is no need to fear that having that precious baby means there is a risk and the pregnancy should be managed by a specialist in a specialist facility with the possible outcome of intervention.

If we want to try to direct the attitudes of women in Western Australia towards having natural births without intervention and it is not inevitable that they will need intervention, we should invite Elle to Western Australia to inform our young mothers and older mothers having their first baby that having a baby is a very worthwhile experience and having it as naturally as possible is very safe. Western Australia and New South Wales are the safest places in the world to have a baby. The perinatal mortality and morbidity statistics for New South Wales, Western Australia and Canada have been published recently. The figures show that having one's baby in a facility in Western Australia, particularly in a rural or regional area, ensures the best outcome. The reason that hospitals in Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Collie and Northam are so safe is the skill of general practitioners in selecting between low risk patients and high risk patients.

[Leave granted for the member to continue her remarks at the next sitting.]

Debate thus adjourned.