In the past 15 years over 41 per cent of all maternity units in Australia have closed, but now a Tamworth woman, mother, and midwife is filling that gap, and going online.
About five years ago Tamara Private Hospital closed the doors on it’s maternity unit, leaving the public system as the region’s only choice, and while Edwina Sharrock praises the local service, she also saw a gap in the market that needed filling and began Birth Beat.
Five years later the ‘everything you need to know about child birth’ business has been launched online, spreading the good word, and videos, to families all over Australia and the world, particularly those in rural and remote communities that don’t have direct access to quality services.
“I had a couple come from Cobar to Tamworth to do the course, and another couple come from Sydney, so I thought why not go online,” Mrs Sharrock said.
“It was originally aimed at rural and regional areas, but I have found that we have been getting plenty of city couples signing up as well, looking for something different.”
The program is designed to replace the public system classes, which generally run one night a week for six weeks.
“Mums and Dads are very busy these days and either don’t make it or drop out, Birth Beat online lets them do the modules, in their own time, and also gives the family personal access to me, as well as other mums and couples in the class,” Mrs Sharrock said.
“It is about quality evidence based care and choices – I won’t tell you what to do but rather present all the evidence based options and let you choose what you want to do with it.”
“The aim for me was to deliver an honest preparation for parents – I want to eliminate fear and prepare parents so they can approach the birth of their baby with excitement rather than trepidation.”
Local couple Jo Diebold and Cale Penrith can attest to the service following the arrival of Oliver some six weeks ago.
“It was a really good personal forum where we felt we could ask any questions, and were presented with all the different choices,” Ms Diebold said.
“For me knowledge is power, so the more I knew, and knew what to expect, the better I felt about it – and it was great for Cale and the other Dads as well.”
Meanwhile Canberra couple Kristy and Dougald Laurie are expecting the birth of their first child any day after becoming one of the first couples to complete the course online.
“To be honest I was quite scared and in a bit of denial about the whole thing and had left my run way too late for hospital classes,” Mrs Laurie said. So much useful information, tools, and techniques to manage labour and birth. I love knowing all this is from a registered midwife.”
Mrs Sharrock doesn’t want to stop there either, Birth Beat’s first aid courses are now also available online, and the entrepreneur has big dreams for the future of the service.
“I’m envisaging a sort of RSVP for parents-to-be where they can connect with parents similar to themselves via a forum, but with all the important support of a health professional so that there is the opportunity to get qualified answers to pre-birth questions,” Mrs Sharrock said.