ABOVE: Erica Cossins is thankful to have her daughter Tamara safe and sound after debris went through the hospital while she was giving birth.
ABOVE: Erica Cossins is thankful to have her daughter Tamara safe and sound after debris went through the hospital while she was giving birth. Marc Stapelberg

Birth saw 103 hours of labour and hospital roof collapse

IF IT wasn't for rapidly intensifying contractions, Erica Cossins would have still been labouring in Bed 15, hardest hit when scaffolding pierced the Lismore Base Hospital's Maternity Ward during Sunday night's super-cell storm.

The Tenterfield 27-year-old, eventually gave birth to a healthy 3.2kg girl, Tamara, at 3am on Thursday morning after 103 hours of painful but erratic labour.

However, for the Cossins, little Tamara's birth story is still largely overshadowed by Sunday night's narrow escape.

As the super-cell intensified, the Cossins had been moved from the hospital's birthing suite to the maternity 'pod' after Erica's intense labour failed to progress.

Erica, her partner Kim Cossins and 17-month-old son Xavier, asleep on the floor, had only just got comfortable when the contractions started coming in 30-second waves.

"I had two contractions. They were so strong that the midwives took one look at me and we picked up our son from the floor and I got wheeled down the hallway into delivery. Ten minutes later the roof came down," she said.

"I don't know what would have happened if we stayed. When we got our bags back from the room they were covered in plaster and completely soaked through. It was the hardest hit." she said.

The room is still off-limits.

Ms Cossins said it was only after her birth that the trauma of the narrow escape sunk in.

"The whole thing finally hit me on Thursday night. I hadn't realised how traumatised I was because I had been so focused on my labour and contractions. I realised that Lismore Hospital had not offered any support services whatsoever.

"All of those women who had a close encounter should have been offered some counselling," she said.

"With what we know now about post natal depression and anxiety, it's surprising we weren't even offered a pamphlet stating the services we could access."

The family plans to return to their 750-acre wildlife refuge, 40 minutes from Tenterfield, on the weekend.

Ms Cossins chose to birth in Lismore after being told at 35 weeks pregnant that she could not use the birthing pool at Stanthorpe Hospital because she was 'too heavy'.

176cm-tall Erica, who swims over a kilometre twice a week, was told she exceeded the 100kg weight restriction for a water labour. Stanthorpe was their closest birthing hospital 1.5 hours away.

Despite an obstetrician approving a water birth at Lismore Base hospital after assessing the young woman's overall health, Ms Cossins was told she was too big for a water birth when she presented at Lismore Base Hospital in labour on Saturday.


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