World Prematurity Day close to the heart for Calvary Riverina Hospital midwife

Having a premature baby is an experience Calvary Riverina midwife, Jessica Bodel, understands all too well.

At 33 weeks pregnant, while looking after a set of twins in the special care nursery at the St Gerard’s Ward, she felt pain – then the bleeding started.

Jessica’s Story

a photo of a little baby

Jessica had experienced a placental abruption, and within hours underwent an emergency caesarean.

Fletcher’s arrival into the world was eventful but, quick.

“My husband was in Canberra, so he missed out on being there for our first baby, but that’s okay. I still had a really good support network with my Mum,” Jessica said.

The next few days and weeks were a mixture of ups, downs and heightened emotions for Jessica, husband Chris and her loved ones.

“When Fletcher was born he needed three days of respiratory support and two weeks of caffeine for his
bradycardia episodes, along with nasogastric tube feeds, constant monitoring, IV therapy for his sugars, and he also was jaundice,” Jess said.

Thankfully, Fletcher was able to go home after three and a half weeks at the hospital with Jessica. As an experienced midwife, she was able to ensure he got the care he needed at home.


World Prematurity Day

Today, marks World Prematurity Day. It puts a spotlight on the 15 million premature babies born each year worldwide.

According to the Miracle Babies Foundation, one in 10 babies are born too early and up to 27,000 babies are born prematurely in Australia each year.

a photo of a little baby

Jessica doesn’t sugar coat the uneasy road of having a baby pre-term.

“Going home without a baby and leaving them in a nursery one or two days after you’ve had them is
probably one of the hardest things you will ever do as a mother. It goes against all your instincts,” Jessica said.

“The way I explain it to my patients is that it is a two steps forward, and one step back situation. It is a bit of a rollercoaster, but your baby does get better, it does get easier and it won’t be long before you have your little baby home with you in your arms.

“My advice is to ask as many questions as you can, so you are well informed in what is happening to you and your baby. It is reassuring to know what is going on and why. There are no silly questions in these circumstances.”

Calvary Riverina Hospital provides comprehensive maternity services supported by a team of highly skilled obstetricians, paediatricians and midwives.

Jessica said the special care nursery allows babies born from 36 weeks to be cared for in the St Gerard’s Ward.

“One of my favourite things about Calvary is that we do everything we can to keep mums and bubs as close together as we possibly can. It is something I wish I was able to do,”

“We keep our mums in for as long as they need and then they move to a boarder status which is really
special. Being able to stay close to your baby improves outcomes on multiple levels – not just for bub, but for mum as well.”

Calvary Riverina Hospital also offers prenatal classes for parents, with a range of health professionals
available to answer any questions from expectant parents. The midwives in the St Gerard’s Ward can also answer questions or provide support night or day, even after you have gone home with your new baby.

“We’re always there to help you navigate and learn those skills of becoming parents because it isn’t as easy and as natural as we’re often led to believe,” Jessica said.

Life is now a little easier for Jessica. Fletcher is five years old and getting ready to start school next year.

“He is very happy, very healthy and absolutely loves his little brother Nate. He is a beautiful boy,” Jessica