To the pregnant women who might be more frightened than usual.

Weighing heavily on our minds today is the devastating mistake that saw two babies administered nitrous oxide in place of oxygen in June and July in Sydney’s Bankstown Hospital.

On the 13 of July, Sonya Ghanem gave birth to a healthy baby boy by caesarean section at Bankstown Hospital. Within an hour, he had died after being given what doctors thought was oxygen.

Another baby was also administered what doctors thought was oxygen in an operating theatre at Bankstown Hospital. At this time, the family has not yet permitted details to be released.

The story is splashed across the media, including Mamamia. The Hospital, the area health service, the NSW Health Department, the gas supply company and the NSW Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, are facing questions as to how such a mistake could have happened, as they rightly should.

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Video via Channel 9

But, right now, as you read this, in all likelihood there are women giving birth to their babies at Bankstown Hospital. And at other hospitals. There are women pacing the floor of their delivery room, breathing through their contractions, the pressure of their baby weighing down through their pelvis.

There are women sitting anxiously waiting in pre theatre. Soon they will be wheeled into an operating theatre for a caesarean section.


There are women whose waters have broken this morning, in the early hours. They’re waiting at home for active labour to come on, waiting to go into the delivery ward.

There are women brewing raspberry leaf tea, eating hot curries, walking and walking and walking, hoping to bring on their labour, to get the damn baby out.

There are women at 38, 39 weeks who are anxiously stroking their burgeoning bellies, wondering what’s ahead.

The consequence of all this media coverage is that perhaps these women are terrified. Perhaps they are scared, not just anxious about the journey of labour and delivery, but perhaps about going to a hospital where this tragic mistake has occurred. Or any hospital.

Pregnant with fear as well as pregnant with their baby.

But, in all likelihood, the doctors and nurses and staff at Bankstown Hospital are frightened too.

But, I like to think that the hospital has called in their best and most qualified staff today. I like to think that today, this week, this month is the time when the staff are most vigilant. Perhaps they are checking everything, double checking everything and then double checking again.

Perhaps the staff are devastated too. Not devastated in the same way that the parents of the two babies are. Not mourning and grieving like they would be. But perhaps the staff have been left reeling too. And perhaps this is what will drive them to do their best work today.

I like to think the safest place to have a baby today is Bankstown Hospital.