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Difficult labour leads to consumer role

Waikato DHB's Ruth Galvin with new maternity consumer representative Milly Emery and baby Lila.

Photo: Maternity Quality and Safety Programme lead Ruth Galvin with Milly Emery and baby Lila.

Being a maternity consumer representative is nothing new to 23 year old Milly Emery. She is already in that role at Waterford Birth Centre in Hamilton.

Milly had planned to birth at Waterford Birth Centre. However three weeks after her due date Lila was making no sign of arrival and Milly had an induction at Waikato Hospital. Progress was slow and Lila was eventually delivered by emergency caesarean section. “Apparently Lila was in a position that meant she could not shift into the birth canal, even though I was ready to give birth,” she explains.

It was not the birth Milly had planned and she had both positive and negative experiences in her journey. Milly has turned her experience into a learning curve that will benefit many Waikato women.

“It’s about learning together,” she says. “It’s exciting to be in a position to make some positive changes.”

Milly and the other two maternity consumer representatives recently appointed by Waikato DHB – Sharni Budd from Te Awamutu and Kylie Hickey from the Coromandel area – come from diverse experiences and backgrounds, and will make a huge contribution to the work of the Waikato Maternity Quality and Safety Programme Board.

Ruth Galvin, Maternity Quality and Safety Programme lead, says consumer representation is a very direct way to hear and learn from Waikato women. “It is the next step up from surveys and consumer input we have had on specific  improvement projects. It means we have the consumer voice directly on our governance board where decisions are made.”

The next Maternity Quality and Safety Board Programme meeting is in September, and all three consumer representatives will attend.

Milly is particularly interested in improvements to induction of labour and also bringing a Maori woman’s perspective to maternity services and cultural safety and awareness issues.

Beyond the three consumer representatives on the board, a larger panel of maternity consumers is also being developed so the board can draw on wider experiences for particular issues or projects.

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