There are renewed calls for the Government to improve maternity services in Southland after a woman gave birth in a carpark - the third recent emergency birth in the region.
Earlier this month National's Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker highlighted the case of a local woman who had been unable to make it a primary birth unit, so was forced to give birth at the Lumsden Child and Maternal Hub, an emergency birthing facility.
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He said that after giving birth to the baby, the woman needed to travel for about an hour to the nearest primary birthing facility.
In May a baby was born in the back of an ambulance south of Lumsden as the mother raced to a primary birthing facility.
Walker said the latest birth, in the Lumsden maternal and child hub car park, should prompt action by the Government.
"This is the third emergency birth since the Lumsden Maternity Centre was downgraded in April, with all three mothers unable to make it to a primary birthing unit," he said.
Walker wants the Lumsden Maternity Centre, which was closed in April by the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) and downgraded into a hub, to be reinstated.
The hub can provide pre and post-natal care, but is only resourced for emergency births.
"If the maternity centre had not been downgraded there would have been a second midwife on site, which would have dramatically increased the mother's chances of making it inside to give birth," he said.
"Within a couple of hours she was also discharged with there no longer being any post-natal care at the maternal and child hub."
Walker said the downgrade of the Lumsden Maternity Centre was resulting in anxious mothers worried about where they will end up giving birth, whether it be in a car park, the side of the road or the primary birthing unit more than an hour away.
"It is not only the physical health and safety of these women that needs to be taken into consideration but also their mental health, as they are being placed under immense stress."
He called on the Prime Minister to urgently intervene for the safety of rural mothers and babies in Southland.