Dr Marnie Slonim
Royal Women's Hospital


Title: A Discussion About Culturally Supportive Labour And Delivery For Indigenous Females

Abstract Text: 

Aboriginal women have a higher incidence of complications in pregnancy than non-indigenous women including gestational diabetes, pregnancy induced hypertension or preeclampsia, urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases. Overall pregnancy outcomes are poorer for aboriginal women including low birth weight infants and higher perinatal mortality rates. In rural and remote indigenous communities in Australia, current practice encourages relocation to a medical centre for confinement once pregnant patients reach term, or earlier if indicated. This policy has been instituted to provide the best possible care and improve outcomes for the mothers and babies who might otherwise not encounter medical support during their labour and delivery. Despite the improved medical outcomes resulting from confinement and subsequent birth in an approved medical centre, many of these women experience anguish about leaving their children and partners for extended periods, social upheaval and cultural insecurity. They often experience loneliness and isolation at a time when personal connections and family involvement are pivotal in the significant milestone of childbirth. This discussion explores various approaches to safe labour and delivery that may minimise associated emotional and cultural distress.