Obese pregnant women taken to cities to give birth

OBESE women in regional Australia are being dispatched to give birth in the cities because their local hospitals are ill-equipped to deal with possible complications.

Queensland Health's policy is for women who have a body mass index above 40 - for example, 180cm tall, weighing 130kg - are to be transferred to a hospital with a "level five" maternity service.

Only the state's largest hospitals, mostly in Brisbane, offer such a service.

In New South Wales, there is no formal policy with NSW Health leaving the decision in the hands of local doctors.

Queensland Health chief nursing and midwifery officer Dr Frances Hughes said women with a BMI above 40 risk pre-term births, defects, depression, reduced ability to breastfeed and either high or low birth weights.

She said delivering pain relief via epidural or anaesthetic is made more complicated, as are surgical procedures.

In 2013, 52 pregnant women with a BMI above 40 were transferred to Brisbane hospitals from parts of regional Queensland.

Dr Frances said this was due to "complications relating to their pregnancy, rather than their weight".

A NSW Health spokesman said the state did not keep similar figures, but "high-risk pregnancies" often needed specialised care more likely to be available at major hospitals in either cities or major regional areas.

APN Newsdesk revealed earlier this month that medicos now trained with 260kg dummies to better prepare for the increase in obese patients.