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Celebrating midwives’ role

Sunday 3 May 2020

Central West Hospital and Health Service midwives will celebrate this year’s International Day of the Midwife on 5 May with a pandemic flavour.

Central West Health Maternal and Child Health Services Manager Deirdre Murphy said it was a fitting time to recognise the crucial role midwives played in building trust and confidence in women through uncertain times.

“Having a baby can be a scary experience at the best of times – particularly if you’re a first-time mum or there are risks associated with your pregnancy,’’ she said.

“So, we completely understand the anxiety that many pregnant women might have been feeling throughout the COVID-19 situation.

“It’s important that families know our hospitals are safe places to birth, and our teams are doing everything they can to provide information and reassurance to our mums-to-be as they support them on their pregnancy journey.

“There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has had an impact on the way we deliver our midwifery services, but in many ways a lot of positives have emerged from it, such as flexibility in consultations with the help of telehealth or home visits.

“But at the heart of a relationship between a midwife and a woman is trust – and I think this has been key to supporting our mums through their pregnancies.”

The theme for the International Day of the Midwife in 2020 is “Celebrate. Demonstrate. Mobilise. Unite – Our time is now”.

Ms Murphy said midwives had certainly embodied that by responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19 and forming closer bonds with their clients.

“We’ve been seeing our women and providing more of their antenatal care in their own homes rather than in a clinical environment, which allows them to minimise contact with places like the hospital,” she said.

“It has increased the level of support that we can provide because when you are talking and educating women on what to expect, it’s in a relaxed setting where they’re comfortable.’’

COVID-19 restrictions limiting the support person to one person have also led to women having shorter hospital stays and, where possible, being discharged home after being in the birthing suite.

“This means the home visits also provide an opportunity to give the women confidence they need when they head home,” Ms Murphy said.

“I think having our appointments in the home is helping them to realise their home environment is perfectly suited to their postnatal time.

“Because we’re in their home, we can show them how they are going to look after the baby, where they’re going to bath the baby and where they’re going to set up their cot and all those things.”

Ms Murphy said the health service employed 5 midwives in Longreach who undertook the birthing component of the maternity service and another 10 midwives across the district who undertook ante and postnatal care across the region.

“Geographical distance, disruptive weather and diverse health care needs are some of the challenges midwives work with in the Central West as they walk beside women on their unique journey to motherhood,’’ she said.

“But evidence indicates improved outcomes do occur when the woman and her family are supported by a ‘known’ midwife through their pregnancy, birth and early parenting, such as is available through our Midwifery Group Practice at Longreach.’’

Ms Murphy said having a baby was one of the most amazing events in a parent’s life and midwives played a vital role in helping to deliver that most precious of gifts.

“From the initial appointment in a woman’s early pregnancy, during the birth and through to those first few weeks at home with a new baby, midwives provide education, care and support on everything from pregnancy, diet, birth, breastfeeding and settling techniques,’’ she said.

“Midwives are also highly skilled at detecting complications in mother and baby and organising referrals to other health care providers or initiating emergency care.

“It’s important, therefore, that midwives’ voices are heard as part of an inter–professional team of health professionals delivering quality care to our clients.

“On 5 May each year, we are given an opportunity to remind ourselves we are part of a global network of midwives protecting and promoting women’s rights to safe and respectful care no matter where they live and no matter how challenging their journey into parenthood may be.

“We stand beside women with open hearts, watchful eyes, skilled hands, a keen mind, strong shoulders and a deep gratitude for the privilege being a midwife is to each of us.’’


For further information contact:

James Guthrie
Principal Media Officer, Rural and Remote Qld
Media and Communication
Department of Health
(07) 3708 5379

Last updated: 5 May 2020