26 March 2023

Support services for miscarriage and early pregnancy complications launched at Centenary Hospital

| Claire Sams
Join the conversation
Hospital room

A room at the Early Pregnancy Service, with a handmade blanket donated by the Canberra Hospital Foundation lying on the bed. Photo: Claire Sams.

The 500-odd women who seek inpatient or outpatient care from Canberra Health Services for early pregnancy complications or loss can now access specialised support.

The Early Pregnancy Service unit at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children is a newly opened facility that treats those needing inpatient care for early pregnancy complications or miscarriage.

“We’ve heard very loud and clear from our consumers that the way early pregnancy services were supported in the past was not ideal,” said Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith.

“Women [were] giving birth or losing their pregnancy at an early stage in the emergency department or in a maternity unit where other women are giving birth to live babies.”

The hospital area that was previously used for administration is now a three-bed facility where women can be brought to from the emergency department if needed.

READ ALSO Early pregnancy loss to be recognised in the ACT through commemorative certificates

With separate treatment spaces and a waiting area, it offers a space for women and families to receive treatment and grieve away from the postnatal ward, including during overnight stays.

It has a quiet room, an ultrasound machine and a consultation room, and is operated by multi-disciplinary health professionals.

Additionally, a newly refurbished Antenatal and Gynaecology Unit with 15 single ensuited beds has moved within the Centenary Hospital, to now be adjacent to the Early Pregnancy Service.

The relocation means the space will be filled later this year by a new postnatal ward that will double the postnatal bed capacity at the Centenary.

Both measures follow the Inquiry into Maternity Services in the ACT and are outcomes of the Maternity in Focus Plan launched last year.

Ms Stephen-Smith said the unit represented a fresh start for care in Australian Capital Territory.

“I think this project is an absolute example of Canberra Health Services leading the nation in listening to women and families with lived experience, respecting that experience and reflecting it in both the model of care and the physical infrastructure to deliver that care.”

For Karen Schlage, who became an advocate for early pregnancy loss following the loss of her children Charlie and Sophia, the opening of the Early Pregnancy Service brought mixed emotions.

“While this is a significant day, and a day to be proud of, at the heart of this day, it is about loss,” Ms Schlage said.

READ ALSO After losing two children prematurely, Karen set out to help other expecting mothers

As one of the women involved in developing the new service for women and families in similar situations to her own, she said the experience of pregnancy loss was not a phenomenon that made a small impact.

“The care women receive during the loss of their baby stays with them and impacts them and their families forever,” she said.

“Women who receive what they feel to be appropriate emotional care during pregnancy loss are less likely to experience ongoing mental health issues.”

The upgrades came as part of a $50 million expansion of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.

Works are also continuing on the Adolescent Mental Health Unit as part of the Centenary Hospital Expansion Project.

Additionally, the expansion project has seen an eight-bed Maternity Assessment Unit and Gynaecology Day Unit open in 2022, as well as negative and positive pressure rooms for children at high risk of infection.

If this story has raised issues for you, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. You can also access the Perinatal Wellbeing Centre’s phone support program on 6288 1936.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Yet Ms Stephen-Smith can’t quite bring herself to acknowledge just why such experiences are traumatic – because these mothers are not “losing a pregnancy”, they are losing a baby, their own child. Yet she must continue her deception because it suits her purposes to slaughter-on-demand babies the same age when they are deemed to be an inconvenience (unwanted).

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.