Letting the ‘love’ hormone kick in after childbirth; and financing large-scale infrastructure projects with a robust and fairer framework

Published 29 April 2016

Liesel Henn
The ‘love’ hormone released when mum and baby have quality bonding time immediately after birth reduces the incidence of the woman haemorrhaging, says retired senior obstetrics manager Anne Saxton who will be awarded a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the Southern Cross University Gold Coast graduation ceremony tomorrow (Saturday April 30).

Another PhD candidate working in the civil construction industry, Liesel Henn, has developed a structured framework for determining the most suitable financing method for large scale infrastructure projects, such as high speed rail, that moves away from ad-hoc or politically motivated choices.

Ms Saxton and Ms Henn are among the 170 graduands receiving degrees at the 10am ceremony at the Twin Towns Services Club Showroom. Three Doctors of Business Administration (DBA) will also be awarded.

Ms Saxton was concerned at the rate of post-partum haemorrhage (PPH) - excessive bleeding after the baby’s birth which may compromise the mother’s health – observed during her time as the senior midwifery manager with network responsibility for 19 hospitals across the Hunter and New England health districts.

Yet at one hospital, where mums and bubs were allowed at least 30 minutes of undistributed time immediately after birth for skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding, the PPH rates were as low as two per cent.

“We came to the conclusion that giving a woman skin-to-skin contact with her baby and allowing spontaneous breastfeeding was a key factor,” said Ms Saxton who analysed more than 7500 individual cases for her study.

The results indicate that when a woman had skin-to-skin contact and breastfed her baby within 30 minutes of birth the risk of postpartum haemorrhage was reduced fourfold.

“Skin-to skin-contact stimulates the release of the natural hormone oxytocin which contracts the uterus. Oxytocin is usually looked at in terms of relationships, but there’s a physiological basis and health benefit as to why breastfeeding and skin-to-skin stimulate and releases the ‘love’ hormone,” Ms Saxton said.

“Thirty minutes is good but an hour would be even better. However in busy obstetric units, where there’s pressure to get women out of the birthing units, then 30 minutes is enough.

“I’m hoping this will lead to changes around the world. There has been a lot of interest in my work since the results paper was published.”

For her Doctoral thesis, Ms Henn created a framework to determine the financing model for proposed public infrastructure that is in a society’s best interest.

She conducted a historical review of the financing of high speed rail (HSR) projects overseas, and applied that to the proposed Australian HSR project.

“An appraisal of large-scale transport infrastructure projects from around the world showed that the choice of financing instrument has rarely been the outcome of a formal and systematic economic appraisal process,” said Ms Henn, who is the manager of projects and policy at Civil Contractors Federation NSW, the peak body representing the civil construction industry.

“Rather, it is a combination of political motivations, national pride or a reactive attempt to fix previous investment errors. The outcome of such informal and highly subjective decision-making processes has in many cases been suboptimal financing (or capital-raising) choices.”

Ms Henn said benefit-cost analysis and multi-criteria analysis were common for determining whether infrastructure should be built as a way of quantifying the economic and social benefits.

“I took a similar approach and developed a framework for selecting a financing mechanism. The framework has both financial analysis and social outcomes, incorporating monetary (for example, private equity and bonds) and intangible impact measures (for example, efficiency and flexibility) to facilitate the selection of a financing approach that is in society’s best interest,” she said.

Ms Henn’s work has been published in academic journals and she has presented papers at industry conferences.

Marion Charlton, the Gold Coast Airport chief operating officer, will deliver the occasional address. Ms Charlton, who has 30 years’ experience in the aviation industry within Australia and overseas, has a MBA from Southern Cross University and is the MBA graduate member of the University’s School of Business and Tourism Advisory Board.

Photo: Liesel Henn, manager of projects and policy at Civil Contractors Federation NSW, will graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy.

Media contact: Sharlene King media officer, Southern Cross University, 02 6620 3508 or 0429 661 349.