Otago Polytechnic

Journey planning

Jean Patterson

Rural people factor in the elements of terrain, weather and distance into most of their critical decisions – and this is especially the case for maternity care.

All pregnant women in rural areas of New Zealand create birthing plans with their midwives addressing the possibility of transferring to an urban birthing unit if they encounter a difficult or lengthy labour.

“Early in a woman’s pregnancy, the need for a ‘plan B’ is discussed with her midwife in acknowledgement of the fact that some women do need to be transferred from their local birthing unit while in labour,” says Dr Jean Patterson, Principal Lecturer and Postgraduate Midwifery Coordinator at Otago Polytechnic’s School of Midwifery.

The online journal, Rural and Remote Health, published a recent study of this process. The research, Patterns of Transfer in Labour and Birth in Rural New Zealand, was conducted by Jean Patterson together with colleagues from Victoria University and the University of Technology, Sydney.

Key features factored in the decision-making were the combined elements of the projected travelling time, geological and climatic factors to be encountered in the transfer and the assurance of the availability of local assistance.

“None of these decisions are made in isolation. The deliberations on these decisions are made well in advance and in all cases the links are clearly established between all parties involved.”

 Patterson J. A. Foureur, M. Skinner, J. (2011) Patterns of Transfer in Labour and Birth in Rural New Zealand. Rural and Remote Health, 11: 1710:(Online), 1–15.