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A program designed to reduce pregnancy and birth problems for Aboriginal women is breaking down cultural barriers and making important inroads into improving maternal and child health in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia (WA).
Gradually rolled out across the region since 2008, the Boodjari yorga program (Noongar for pregnant woman) aims to reduce teen pregnancy, encourage breastfeeding, increase participation in antenatal care, reduce low birth-weight babies and preterm births, and decrease substance use.
Over 150 women have taken part in the program, which is run by five part-time midwives across the Wheatbelt, working closely with an Aboriginal health team.
'We are improving the birth outcomes slowly but surely,' community midwife, Melanie Woodhams, said. Ms Woodhams also said that before the program started, a history of mistrust with the health system had deterred many Aboriginal women from seeking care during pregnancy.
'But there has been a change in the community's attitude towards antenatal care,' she said. 'The women are becoming more empowered to make informed decisions. Through the education we provide they are making healthier choices. They are reducing or quitting smoking and they are stopping drinking alcohol during pregnancy, although not all women do stop.'
Source: The West Australian