Woman forced to give birth on side of road calls for better rural maternity services

A Southland woman who was forced to give birth on the side of the road at the weekend is calling for better maternity services in rural areas.

After the Lumsden Maternity Centre was downsized by the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) in favour of sending women elsewhere, National MP Hamish Walker, and midwives, warned this would lead to more roadside births.

On Sunday their worst fears came true. Amanda McIvor gave birth in the race to another facility.

McIvor said Lumsden should "absolutely" be provided for in terms of maternity services.

"For areas like that where there is nothing, they need to do something. It's only a matter of time before things go really wrong, and they're going to have either a dead baby or a dead mother.

"It's such a rural community - there's got to be something there for women who have babies out here, because it's so far to Invercargill."

McIvor mirrored Walker's views that there would be more roadside births. She told Newshub on Monday it wasn't a comfortable experience.

"I wouldn't recommend it to anyone," she said.

McIvor said she resides about halfway between Te Anau and Lumsden.

"We went to Lumsden as soon as the contractions started," she said. "Just at the advice of our midwife, just to get an assessment."

Upon arrival at the Lumsden Maternity Centre, McIvor said she was put straight in an ambulance to take her to Invercargill Hospital - about 80 kilometres away.

They'd barely got on the road when she gave birth.

"From what everyone's told me we were basically just out of Lumsden - [when] everything was happening.

"With my first daughter we had a pretty serious bleed afterwards, so we were always going to be coming to Invercargill anyway, but we never expected that my second one would only take two hours to arrive."

McIvor said herself and her newborn, 4.8 kilogram Levi Cowie, were both healthy and doing well a day after the experience.

"They need to do something because it's not fair on a community like Te Anau and Lumsden. I'm sure there's other areas in the country that are the same, where they're basically neglected for care like this."

SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming told the Otago Daily Times he was glad McIvor and her son were doing well.

"We're currently implementing our network of services and monitoring its implementation and we'll review this incident as part of our continuing evaluation of services across the district," he said in a statement.