Tuesday, May 8, 2007

'Guardian angel' WA's best

Victoria Laurie

May 07, 2007 06:13am

A MIDWIFE who delivered two dying babies for a Perth mother has been named top of her field in WA after being nominated by the bereaved parents.

Theresa Clifford attended the births of all three of Lisa Wilkinson's sons, and was present yesterday at the sixth birthday party of surviving son Shae, whose brothers Kaia and Finn died soon after birth from severe congenital hydrocephalus, a condition that causes babies to be born with an enlarged head and little or no brain matter.

Ms Clifford said it was heartbreaking when Kaia was delivered at home in 1999 and died suddenly twelve hours later.

"Lisa woke up at two in the morning and he was dead," she said. "He hadn't looked hydrocephalic at all."

Two years later, Shae arrived safely in an uneventful homebirth, but when Lisa's third child, Finn, was conceived last year, a late scan at 32 weeks showed Finn was also severely affected.

Ms Clifford supported Ms Wilkinson's decision to carry Finn full term. While not expected to survive the birth, he lived for eight days.

"It was amazing that Finn did live that long - it was his gift to Lisa and (father) Chris. We were all there when he died," she said.

Ms Wilkinson said the midwife's support had been crucial to her recovery.

"Theresa was like a guardian angel, sharing the most amazing moments of our lives and the most devastating ones," she said.

The Australian College of Midwives, which co-sponsors the annual Johnson and Johnson Midwife of the Year Award, said good midwifery care helped women through post-natal loss.

But college president Pat Brodie warned of a crisis in midwife numbers, saying an estimated shortfall of 1800 trained midwives across Australia in 2002 had worsened.

"We have queues of people wanting to join the midwifery profession who can't get a place in a program for want of funding for clinical placements," she said.

The Australian

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