05 May 2023
Today the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia celebrates International Day of the Midwife and acknowledges the long history of the midwifery profession and its dedication to improving the health outcomes for women and families
With the theme of ‘Together again: from evidence to reality’, the NMBA honours the incredible work of midwives across Australia that provide evidence-based care to support women’s health.
NMBA Chair, Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM, spoke to the strength and compassion of the profession to deliver safe and effective woman-centered care. ‘As a midwife myself, I am continuously inspired by the amazing work of my colleagues. The dedication they have to their profession and the need to consistently improve the outcomes for women and families is remarkable.’
There are many examples of areas where midwives are leading the profession with foundational evidence to further improve the care of women and families and to celebrate this year’s theme, we spoke to two midwives who are working to develop the profession further through applied research.
Helen Nightingale, a PhD candidate and midwife, is focusing on increasing the knowledge and awareness of psychological trauma in maternity care, including exploring the experience of psychological trauma that is external to the labour and birth period. Following professional and personal experiences with traumatic pregnancy, Helen has a strong desire to fill the knowledge gap relating to perinatal trauma.
‘Women and birthing families engage with midwives at some point in their journey and for this reason we are well-placed to provide care and respond to their needs’.
In addition to her PhD in gestational weight gain and midwifery practice, Helen has a strong interest in perinatal mental health and ensuring that women are provided with the midwifery-led care focusing on not only their physical but also mental health needs.
‘I feel we are on the cusp of a breaking wave in relation to the significance of perinatal psychological trauma. Trauma informed care principles should be implemented as standard - there are huge advantages for those who live with trauma, and no harm for staff or those who don't have trauma, only benefits.’
‘An important element of trauma informed care would see continuity of care prioritised, and I really hope that the midwifery profession is recognised and supported to achieve this’, said Helen.
Another midwife leading the way is Fiona McLardie-Hore the coordinator for the Baggarrook Yurrongi project, implementing culturally specific continuity of midwife care for First Nations women and families. The aim of the project is to proactively offer all women having a First Nations baby caseload care with a midwife who had undertaken cultural training, supporting them to navigate, access and engage with the maternity care system.
‘Providing care to women and families based around a social model of health rather than a biomedical model ensures care is provided in the context of women’s lives, and individualising care according to women’s social and cultural needs provides a pathway to greater health equity.’
‘We are working towards offering women and families a greater choice in how their care is provided and in particular greater access to continuity of midwife care’, Fiona said.
The new models have been sustained in three major metropolitan hospital services in Melbourne, with over 400 women having a First Nations baby receiving the culturally safe continuity of care model each year.
NMBA Chair, Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM spoke to the importance of the International Day of the Midwife and thanked the midwifery profession, ‘on behalf of the NMBA, I want to wish you a happy International Day of the Midwife and thank you for your hard-work and commitment you all bring to the profession’.
The NMBA is also committed to ensuring that the midwifery profession continues to flourish and grow and are currently conducting a full review of the midwifery workforce to ensure this long standing profession is supported into the future.
Learn more about the International Day of the Midwife.