The West

Cultural connection to childbrith

Research is under way in Perth to help pregnant Aboriginal women who give birth "off country" and risk missing out on a spiritual connection with the land.

A $1 million study funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council grant is targeting women in remote WA who have to travel to Perth to have their baby because of medical complications.

Lead researcher Rhonda Marriott, Professor of Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing at Murdoch University, said the project recognised the cultural importance of "birthing on country" to ensure a spiritual connection to the land.

"Birthing on country means an Aboriginal mother giving birth to her child on the lands of their ancestors," she said.

"So in Perth, Noongar women using metropolitan services can be considered to be birthing on country.

"But many Aboriginal women in other parts of WA, particularly remote areas, are required to transfer to a metropolitan hospital for the birth of their baby because of a possible medical risk, such as gestational diabetes."

The project includes the Telethon Kids Institute and will try to find ways to make maternity services more accommodating to cultural needs.

Perth mother-of-two Veronica Kirby said it was important Aboriginal women felt comfortable where they gave birth.

"It was really important to me that my baby was safe and healthy," she said.

The West Australian

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