Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Travelling Midwives Offered Comfort, Care; Rural Medics Were Selfless Helpers at Remote Births

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Travelling Midwives Offered Comfort, Care; Rural Medics Were Selfless Helpers at Remote Births

Article excerpt

In today's Backward Glance, we shine the spotlight on the significant contribution midwives played in the early days of the Sunshine Coast.

In the days of the free settler and pioneers on the Sunshine Coast, medical assistance was often far away.

Pioneer cemeteries tell silent stories of heartbreak and loss as a result of this distance.

Often the only assistance for many miles was the experienced travelling midwife.

With no phones to call for help when a baby was on the way, the only support was the local midwife, or a woman on a nearby property, who either walked to the little home in the bush or came by horse.

The lights of the pioneer home were those of a kerosene lantern. The lonely wilderness of the bush, only little children at her feet, was the experience of most pioneer women as they reared their families.

Sometimes her husband was days away working on a property or logging in the bush.

In 1888, English-born nurse Ellen Hume moved to Peachester and became a pioneering midwife.

Nurse Hume rode side-saddle from Beerwah to Maleny and out to Kilcoy to help people wherever needed.

In 1914, she turned her residence into a bush hospital.

Nurse Hilda Probert, also of Peachester, was always on call. Often needed at night, she travelled all hours far afield by horse and sulky.

Nurse Probert would have to catch the horse and harness it before setting off.

A mother of three sets of twins, when called to a confinement, she would arrive at the home and take up residence, helping the family where she could.

In the early 1900s, a nursing home was established in Maud St, Nambour, by Nurse Adams who held certificates of the London Obstetrical Society, Clapham Maternity Hospital and Central Midwives Board London.

Early in 1909, Nambour's Dr Malaher employed a trained nurse and advertised "accouchements taken" (confinements for birth).

In 1910, Nurse Laidlaw of Nambour advertised her qualifications in midwifery in the Nambour Chronicle "Midwifery cases received, or at homes attended". …

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