Women living in rural Australia feel \

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WOMEN living in rural areas of Australia are calling out the limited birthing options available to them, saying the shortage of medical experts means they are having to travel hours to give birth and, in some cases, are being “bullied” into having caesareans.

Last week a small rally was held outside of Emerald Hospital, located in the Central Highlands Region of Queensland, where women were protesting the closure of a local maternity ward and the alleged mistreatment rural mothers have received.

One of the mothers who was at the rally, Fiona Bailey, told the ABC that she had planned to have a natural delivery for her second child after having a caesarean birth for her first child and was approved for this delivery plan early on.

But just two weeks before her due date she was told by local doctors that a natural birth like she had planned was not possible and she would have to travel to Rockhampton, 270km west of Emerald, if she wanted to have a vaginal delivery.

Bailey said she felt pressured by doctors to change her birthing plan and travelling to Rockhampton to deliver her child wasn’t possible.

“I feel I was being bullied into having a caesarean here in Emerald,” she said.

“The option to go away just wasn’t possible, it was over Christmas time it would’ve meant spending Christmas Day in a hotel room somewhere away from family, away from my friends just waiting to have a baby.”

Central Queensland Hospital Health Service (CQHHS) held a community forum in January where a number of women shared similar experiences of feeling bullied.

Afterwards the pubic was informed that there would be a review of maternity services at the hospital, according to Central Queensland News.

Director of Nursing and Midwifery at CQHHS Sue Foyle, said that suggestions made by medical professionals at Emerald Hospital were in the interest of safety both the mother and child.

“Ultimately it is a woman’s choice where she gives birth and it is important for us to provide as many services as close to home for Central Queenslanders, while always maintaining the safety and wellbeing of mothers and babies,” she told Central Queensland News.