The commitment, skill and compassion of midwives is being lauded across Wide Bay on International Day of the Midwife today (5 May).
Midwives play an essential role in the pregnancy, birthing and neonatal journeys of about 2000 families each year at the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay maternity units.
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service also employs midwives who provide valuable antenatal and postnatal care in rural areas, and bring their skills and knowledge to other teams such as in child health or emergency department settings.
WBHHS Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services Fiona Sewell said the community was fortunate to have professional and dedicated midwives serving local families.
“We have great midwifery teams at Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, with experienced members of the team working with and mentoring their colleagues as they develop their skills,” Ms Sewell said.
“WBHHS is committed to investing in its midwifery team to ensure that we’re strengthening the care families will receive into the future.”
Midwife Jessica Williamson, 24, said working as part of the Hervey Bay Hospital Marie Gundesen Women’s Unit team during her postgraduate year in 2019 had developed her passion for the profession.
“I just fell in love with the unit, with the team and with the community. It’s such a diverse and challenging career. Every day is completely different,” Ms Williamson said.
“The thing I love most is being with women every step of the way – from the antenatal period, during the birth and through to the postnatal period – and helping them with the transition through each of those stages.”
Ms Williamson is now part of the Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) team, which gives eligible local women the chance to be supported by a known midwife or team of midwives throughout their entire pregnancy journey.
“It’s such an intimate time in a family’s life, and it’s really a privilege and very heartwarming to be able to be a part of that,” she said.
“And it’s not just during that time that we get to be part of a family’s life. With our MGP work phone, we get sent messages and pictures all the time from parents who are keen to show us their children’s progress, which is just lovely. And I swear every time I go out I run into someone I know who’s been through the unit or MGP!
“I’m even starting to see some repeat families, which is great.”
Bundaberg Family Unit midwife Jodie-Lee Nowland said she was inspired to pursue a career as a midwife through a combination of a desire to help people, her passion for women and children’s health, and her own birth experiences.
“It’s really diverse and rewarding. It’s definitely challenging, but seeing a woman get through those challenges can be the most rewarding part of midwifery,” Ms Nowland said.
“You have to build a rapport very quickly and earn a woman’s trust. That’s really part of the essence of being an advocate for a woman – making sure she is being heard, is getting what she wants and has a positive experience.
“Being part of bringing new life into the world is magical, but it’s also the special, quiet moments in between when forging connections, building trust and being present with a woman, where you have an opportunity to have a lasting, positive impact.”
Starting in paediatrics in 2016, Ms Nowland worked there for a couple of years before transitioning into midwifery in 2019. She has now completed a graduate certificate in special care and plans to undertake further study to enhance her skills.
“It was always something I had an interest in, but it’s something I ended up in later in life because I had my own business and children,” she said.
“I’m committed to ongoing professional development to continually enhance my practice and improve the standard of care for women and their families. I am excited for the future as the opportunities to diversify in midwifery are endless.”
Each WBHHS midwifery team is celebrating International Day of the Midwife with staff events such morning and afternoon teas, and group walks.
Ms Sewell said it was particularly important for the team to reflect on a difficult 12 months that saw them swiftly change their practices to adapt to the uncertainty women faced when pregnant and birthing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the visitor restrictions it brought with it.
“Our team should be proud of providing a safe service to local families throughout the past 12 months as we’ve faced so much uncertainty and changes to restrictions,” Ms Sewell said.
“Our midwives have been adaptable in their workplace practices and supportive of families who have faced this uncertainty as new parents. It’s their professionalism and compassion that have given local women trust and confidence during their birthing journey.
“I thank all our midwives for their efforts during the past 12 months and I encourage them to spend some of International Day of the Midwife reflecting on what they’ve achieved.”