“They can come in and access the midwives to do their antenatal checks, they can use that time for their children to access other services within the clinic. As a result, women were engaging with the clinic throughout their whole pregnancy.
We try and aim for seven antenatal visits throughout the pregnancy, we’re actually hitting that mark, if not more, so for mum and baby that’s huge.
It means we’ve got better health outcomes, we’ve got better birth weights and they can access the other services as well so it’s definitely a huge success with engaging the women within our services.”
Aboriginal health practitioner and team leader at the Danila Dilba centre in Palmerston, Tiana McCoy
Photo above : Natalia Moore-Deagan says the Indigenous health workers are one reason she goes to Danila Dilba. ABC News: Lucy Marks
A Northern Territory Aboriginal health service is working to improve the way Indigenous mothers access health care during their pregnancy and is improving generational health practices along the way.
Aboriginal health practitioner and team leader at the Danila Dilba centre in Palmerston, Tiana McCoy, said a success of the clinic’s model had been using Indigenous healthcare workers to connect with women who would not access health care otherwise.
“The family support workers who go out into the community and engage the women into the service they become familiar with who people are and they really do come in and they’re comfortable coming in which is excellent,” she said.
Some women access the mother’s clinic for the first time during a monthly gestation diabetes testing session, but healthcare workers are using the three-hour clinic to screen for other conditions and educate the women on general health in an environment that provides a culturally safe service.
First time mother Lez Hall, 20, went with her partner to the clinic for the first time and said the service made her feel secure.
“For my first time it’s good to have a midwife with me and everything, so it’s good for my first pregnancy,” Ms Hall said.
“I don’t know much about pregnancy because it’s my first time so it’s good that I know that they’ll tell me what I have to do throughout my nine months.”
Others patients, like 23-year-old Natalia Moore-Deagan, return for their antenatal and diabetes checks, which they only access through the Danila Dilba clinic.
“One of the main reasons [I only come here] is they have Indigenous health workers,” she said.
Ms Moore-Deagan is in the last trimester of her third pregnancy and said she had learnt to improve her health during pregnancy.
“It’s good, it’s healthy, my whole pregnancy for three of my children now has been very healthy and no problems,” she said.
“I’ve learnt to eat healthy, drink healthy and also take my iron tablets.”
The clinic has diagnosed seven cases of gestational diabetes in the past six months and after going on to received treatment and education about diet and exercise, four of women had babies of a healthy weight.
“We’ve seen ladies come in with their first pregnancy they ended up on oral medication and the second pregnancy, they’re diet control so that’s a good step,” Sumaria Corpus said.
The senior gestational diabetes educator said she was working to treat pregnant women and also educate them to prevent future generation from developing diabetes and associated health problems.
“As we’re seeing a lot of young people, from the age of nine years onwards, with diabetes, so this is the best place to stop that chain effect, giving them the right information, giving them the right support so people can make a choice of change and that’s the biggest thing.”