'We deserve services': Mum launches rural midwife business
WHEN Stephanie Rackemann gave birth to her first child in Brisbane she had a strong support network of friends, and a range of health services at her finger tips.
After moving to the North Burnett she brought her second baby into the world, and it was a completely different experience.
The level of support came nowhere near what was offered in the city, and Mrs Rackemann was left feeling lonely and isolated.
Fast forward a few years and the Coalstoun Lakes mother has recently become an eligible midwife, eager to provide mothers with the support she felt she missed out on.
"Women absolutely want more support, so it's great having that skill set there and knowing I can use it now," she said.
"When I go to playgroups and local mums find out that I'm a midwife they're so excited because the services that we do have here are often weekly or monthly. So if you're struggling with breastfeeding at home, waiting a week to get help is really hard.
"If we were in the city, services would be right there for us and we deserve access to these types of things as well."
Becoming an eligible midwife means Mrs Rackemann can see women throughout their pregnancy, and up to six weeks after their baby is born.
She said she only knew of three other midwives delivering prenatal and postnatal midwifery services in North Burnett.
"I can't really do midwifery here within its full scope because there's no birthing here, Bundaberg is our closest unit," Mrs Rackemann said.
"A lot of women are travelling to wherever they are birthing, whether that's Bundy or Hervey Bay or the Sunshine Coast, so essentially I'm trying to lessen the amount of trips that mums have to make.
"They'll be able to see me in the North Burnett and not have to make those trips as much."
Mrs Rackemann went to school in Gayndah before moving away to study nursing.
She moved back to the region three years ago.
Since announcing her new business The Rural Midwife on social media last week, Mrs Rackemann has received overwhelming support from the North Burnett community.
"I even had one mum from Bundaberg call me saying 'oh my gosh, can I birth with you?', because she really doesn't want to do it at the hospital," she said.
The Rural Midwife does not yet offer home birthing and there are currently no midwives providing birthing services in the region.
Mrs Rackemann said although the insurance costs to practise as a home birth midwife have recently decreased, a debate about the safety of current practices has the future of home birthing on the rocks.
This can deter midwives from wanting to provide the service, leading some rural mums to free birth which is the only option if they want to give birth in the North Burnett.
"Free birthing is when a medical attendant isn't there, it's a planned birth where it's just mum and dad," Mrs Rackemann said.
"The climate within the maternity setting at the moment is really hard and there are lots of petitions circulating to keep home birth midwives practising in Australia.
"I will look into it in the future but my hesitation at the moment is my young family."
Prior to The Rural Midwife, Mrs Rackemann was a registered nurse who ran a hypno-birthing business- a comprehensive childbirth education course which teaches parents-to-be all the ins and outs of labour.
Through this business, Birthing Matters, she taught tips and tricks to lessen the intensity of labour including self hypnosis, affirmations and knowing what pain relief options were available.
Her new business will continue to offer hypno-birthing.
She will also continue advocating for more services for mums in the North Burnett.
"I don't think there will be birthing back in this community for a long time, which is disappointing, but I will work towards what's safest and best for mums in regards to providing care," she said.
"That might include trying to get more funding for somewhere for mums to stay in Bundy, and seeing them there."
With hopes of establishing a clinic in the future, Mrs Rackemann will now begin providing prenatal and postnatal services for mums at their homes and in the community.
"I'm hoping to start a new parents' group which will connect more mums and I'm also hoping to do some clinics with infants' sleep, settling and breastfeeding," she said.
"Even though I don't have all the answers I have lots of resources so if someone's struggling with breastfeeding I can link them in with a lactation consultant via Skype which is the new thing.
"Being able to sit with a mum and trouble shoot with her, and make consultants available, will be brilliant."
Mrs Rackemann's website theruralmidwife.com.au will be up and running in coming weeks.
For the moment she can be contacted on 0413 265 470.