Thursday, June 27, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Birth Centre Celebrates 30 Years

Last Monday marked 30 years since the Mackay Birth Centre opened its doors to the region's expectant mums.  

On June 26, Hayden Powell and Jessika Novikov turned 30, their birthdays marks the anniversary of the first babies born at the centre.

Hayden was the second baby born on 26 June 1994 at the newly-opened birth centre, to parents Maria and Michael Powell. He arrived just three minutes after the first baby Jessika was born. Both were born nine days after the Queensland-first and midwife-led birth centre opened its doors on 17 June 1994.

Maria said it became “somewhat a race that day” to see which baby would be the first born at the new facility, a two-bedroom cottage on the grounds at Mackay Base Hospital.

Thirty Years Of Birth Stories

“My midwife Cathy was going backwards and forwards between the two of us labouring mums, between the two rooms, to see which baby would be born first,” Maria said.

“I only realised this when she gave gloves to Michael and said ‘put these on as I don’t know which baby is coming first and I might need some help!’”.

Fortunately, a second midwife arrived and helped Zoe Novikov deliver the centre’s first arrival, her daughter Jessika Brooke, at 7.47am weighing 6lb 8lz (3.12kg). Maria’s son Hayden was born just three minutes later at 7.50am weighing in at a healthy 9lb (4kg).

Maria said she had appreciated the homely and calm atmosphere at the birth centre and seeing midwife Cathy Styles consistently there for her prenatal visits.

“Cathy was someone I grew to know well and trust and our visits were always at the same little cottage throughout my pregnancy,” Maria said.

“My first son Rhys was born at Nambour Hospital six years before and I really didn’t want the same level of intervention – he was induced and I had pethidine and oxytocin. His birth was hard and fast and I didn’t want that for my second birth; I wanted it more natural.”

A two-kilometre walk on Bucasia Beach on her due date kick-started her 11-hour labour with Hayden.

“I’m really incredibly proud Hayden and Jessika were the first babies born at the Mackay Birth Centre,” she said.

“I kept all the newspaper clippings about him and Jessika being the first arrivals. I have fond memories of the paper taking photos of us as the centre’s first new mums – it was the day after they were born and we weren’t really feeling our best.”

The 30th anniversary of the Mackay Birth Centre was held in conjunction with the Mackay Hospital Foundation Family Fun Day on 2 June. Maria and Hayden along with Zoe and Jessika Novikov attended the celebrations to cut a birthday cake.

“It was also lovely to attend the 30th anniversary and to be reunited with Jessika and Zoe and to also meet the last baby born at the centre earlier this year. It’s really quite special to be the first and then to also meet the last baby born at that centre,” Maria said.

Hayden grew up in Mackay, completed his senior schooling at Holy Spirit College and an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic before working out at the mines. He also worked as a theatre wardsperson at the Mater Hospital before recently commencing work with Hastings Deering. He intends to study dietetics at university in the future to “help people” Maria said.

“He’s very settled and I'm so very proud of him,” Maria said.

“He's just such an amazing person and he still teaches me things - he's so much wiser at his age than I ever was at 30.”

Maria said she was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Mackay midwife and maternity services advocate Cathy Styles two years ago.

She hopes to one day sit on the birth centre memorial bench overlooking the rose garden at the Mackay Base Hospital to remember Cathy “who was there supporting me at one of the biggest and most special moments in my life.”

“It’s certainly a long and very special history for thousands of people who had their babies at the Mackay Birth Centre.”

Mackay Birth Centre midwives are still providing birthing services in a dedicated suite within our Women’s Health Unit, and antenatal services at Carlyle Community Health.

Plans for a new Birth Centre off-site from Mackay Base Hospital are currently being explored.

By Mackay Hospital and Health Service

First born babies, Hayden Powell and Jessika Novikov cut a birthday cake at the recent Mackay Birth Centre 30th anniversary celebrations. Photo credit: Mackay Hospital and Health Service

The Mackay Birth Centre celebrated 30 years of amazing care at the Mackay Hospital Foundation Family Fun Day on 2 June. Photo supplied: Mackay Hospital and Health Service

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