The Southland mother who gave birth to her son on the side of the road yesterday morning says the situation could have been much worse.

As a result of her experience with the newborn, she will now join the campaign to improve maternity services in the south.

Early yesterday, Amanda McIvor knew she was in labour so called her midwife, Sarah Stokes, who advised her and partner Gordon Cowie to drive to Lumsden from their home between Mossburn and Te Anau for an assessment.

"We knew from the start of my pregnancy we would have to go to Invercargill because there wasn't anywhere else, so there was no waiting around when the time come.


"So we just got in the car and went."

'We told you so!' Baby born on side of road in Southland, MP continues to call for maternity unit

After being assessed by Stokes, it was decided to send her to Southland Hospital via St John ambulance, because there was no oxygen or back-up life-saving equipment.

Near Lumsden, McIvor gave birth just after 6.30am to her son Levi, who weighed 4.8kg (10lb 9oz).

Both mother and baby were doing well but the situation could have been much worse, she said.

"I had a minor bleed and it could have been a much more dangerous situation if I didn't have such an experienced midwife with me."

Baby Levi was born to mum Amanda McIvor and her partner Gordon Cowie.
Baby Levi was born to mum Amanda McIvor and her partner Gordon Cowie.

It has been more than a month since the town's maternity centre was downgraded as part of a regionwide overhaul of maternity services by the Southern District Health Board, but critics have said the promised maternity services meant to replace the clinic have not been delivered.

Stokes previously told the Otago Daily Times she was expecting many more roadside births due to the closure of the town's birthing unit.


Following the experience McIvor and Cowie would be much more active in the campaign to retain the maternity centre.

In a statement, health board chief executive Chris Fleming said he was aware of the situation and was pleased both McIvor and Levi were doing well.

"We're currently implementing our network of services and monitoring its implementation and we'll review this incident as part of our continuing evaluation of services across the district," Fleming said.

The maternity facility in Lumsden was not a planned place of birth but there was equipment available to conduct a birth in cases of emergency, he said

Equipment on site included medications and fluids for emergency situations as well as a warmer and a neonatal resuscitation device to assist establishing breathing.

Clutha Southland MP Hamish Walker said the situation would not have happened if the Government had not cut maternity services in the town.

Walker said he had written a letter to Minister of Health David Clark three weeks ago advising him the maternity hubs the Government had promised were not up and running.

The situation was unacceptable, especially as it was completely avoidable, he said.