Photo: Marnie, Lincoln, baby Texan and Dr Stephen Cole.

At Epworth Freemasons Maternity, we are proud of the special experience we can provide to mums and their babies. We are thrilled to see a growing number of parents travelling, from across the state of Victoria, to give birth at Epworth Freemasons and experience some of the luxe care we provide and to be looked after by our excellent midwives.

One such patient, who spent many hours in the car while pregnant is Marnie, who recently delivered a healthy son, despite a rare medical condition and 13-year battle to get pregnant.

She is one of several from the Gippsland region who have given birth at Epworth Freemasons in recent years. Marnie, who lives in a small town outside Traralgon, regularly travelled 150km for almost two hours each way every time she had an appointment with Epworth obstetrician Dr Stephen Cole.

“It took me a long time to have him. In 2012, after I had four miscarriages, I was diagnosed with unicornate uterus.”

This rare genetic condition, so called because it’s referred to as a ‘uterus with one horn’, meant Marnie only had half a uterus, with one fallopian tube. She did six rounds of IVF and then, finally, success.

“Tex was our ninth embryo transfer; this little one took,” Marnie said.

Classified as a high risk pregnancy, with gestational diabetes on top of everything else, Marnie became a patient of Dr Cole at Epworth Freemasons in East Melbourne.

Dr Cole says there are a multitude of reasons women from the country travel for obstetric care.

“We are seeing an increasing complexity with our patient population, with greater maternal age (most are well into their 30s and older) and the problems that may come with that,” he explained.

“The number of women undergoing fertility treatment and giving birth in their 40s is substantial now. Our patients are willing to travel to receive expert care.

“I had one patient travel down from Robinvale (460km away) to have her twins at Epworth Freemasons.”

Marnie says, being high risk, meant she opted for care in Melbourne.

“The travel was hard work. I had to see Stephen every two weeks; the long drives meant a whole day out each time. But I took no chances.”

Marnie and husband Lincoln were thrilled to deliver baby Tex at Epworth Freemasons in June.

“We didn’t know how far along I’d get, so I was booked in for a caesarean at 37 weeks and stayed with family a week prior, so I was closer to the hospital,” Marnie said.

“I was stressed, but it all went smoothly. Tex was crying as soon as his head popped out. it was a great experience.”

Maternity patients from the Goulburn Valley are becoming common at Epworth Freemasons, with women from Shepparton and surrounding Kialla regularly making the 200km drive – six in 2021, another 9 in 2022 and four already this year.

In the last two years, the furthest a maternity patient has travelled to attend Epworth Freemasons was 540km from Mildura in 2021.

Our maternity unit also cares for interstate patients, including one from Deniliquin, NSW in 2021, which is almost 300km away. Others live close to borders, like Echuca, 220km away and Swan Hill, 330km away.


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