'Morbidly obese' mums being sent elsewhere to give birth
AN AVERAGE of two Fraser Coast mums a month are being sent to give birth at Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast because they are classifed as morbidly obese by health authorities.
When Maryborough's Lauren Fender was informed at Hervey Bay Hospital that she would need to deliver her baby at Nambour or Brisbane hospital due to her weight, she was shocked.
It wasn't because she was informed she was overweight or because of the need to travel to have her baby.
She had already been told by others that some mothers had to go to Brisbane to have their babies because of their weight.
It was the manner in which she was told that caused her pain, she said.
"I found them incredibly rude," she said.
"They didn't hold back."
While she had been pre-warned about the possibility of a transfer, that did not stop the experience from being distressing, Lauren said.
"They were not very positive about it," she said.
"It was quite upsetting."
Lauren had to return to the hospital for antenatal appointments and felt uncomfortable doing so, she said.
When Lauren welcomed her little girl, Charlotte Lea, it was a happy conclusion to what had been an unhappy experience.
Lauren is originally from Sydney and said if she has any more children she hoped it would be there.
Transfers applied to women with a body mass index of 40, or a total weight of 135kg or more.
In 2011-12, 28 women with a BMI of more than 40 were transferred from Hervey Bay to Brisbane to deliver their babies.
That is about 2.7% of the 1046 babies born that year.
Of those women, most transferred to Brisbane but for those with a BMI between 40 and 50, there is an option to deliver in Nambour Hospital.
Some women needed to be transferred because Hervey Bay Hospital's maternity ward is rated as a level four - it is able to care for low- and moderate-risk women with no medical conditions or disorders who remain stable and have a BMI of less than 40.
Dr Dirk Ludwig, director Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Hervey Bay Hospital, said concern for the health of the mother and baby was the reason for transfers.
He encouraged patients to contact the unit or the patient liaison officer if they were dissatisfied or would like to discuss their treatment further.
"Obesity can obstruct labour requiring a caesarean section to be performed.
"However, obesity also impacts on the ability to successfully perform an epidural or other anaesthesia-related procedure, making surgical access difficult," he said.