HOME VISIT: Tamie-Lee McCullough with baby Oliver catching up with Bundaberg midwife Amy Plowman at a post-natal Midwifery Group Practice appointment in her home.
HOME VISIT: Tamie-Lee McCullough with baby Oliver catching up with Bundaberg midwife Amy Plowman at a post-natal Midwifery Group Practice appointment in her home.

Midwives playing crucial support role during COVID-19

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service’s most senior nurse has paid tribute to the important role the organisation’s midwives have played in supporting pregnant and birthing women throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Today is International Day of the Midwife approaches on May 5, and WBHHS executive director of nursing and midwifery services Fiona Sewell 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 – so we completely understand the anxiety that many pregnant women might have been feeling throughout the COVID-19 situation,” Ms Sewell said.

“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 Sewell said midwives had certainly embodied that by responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19 and forming close bonds with their clients.

Bundaberg Hospital midwife Amy Plowman, who is part of the Midwifery Group Practice, said mums across the Bundaberg region had been grateful for and receptive to changes in response to COVID-19.

A Midwifery Group Practice model provides care and support from a known midwife, or small team of midwives, who are responsible for a woman’s entire pregnancy journey, from antenatal care through to labour, birth and post-natal care.

“We’ve been seeing our women and providing their antenatal care in their own homes rather than in a clinical environment, which allows them to minimise contact with places like the hospital and the Margaret Rose Centre,” Ms Plowman 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.

“I feel like our rapport with our women has improved because of that, and has resulted in a closer relationship of trust.”

COVID-19 restrictions have also led to women having shorter hospital stays and, where possible, being discharged home after being in the birthing suite – which means the home visits also provide an opportunity to give the women confidence they need when they head home.

“I think having our appointments in the home is helping them to realise their home environment is perfectly suited to their post-natal time,” Ms Plowman said.

“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.”

First-time mum Tamie-Lee McCullough, who gave birth recently to baby Oliver at Bundaberg Hospital, said she couldn’t praise her team of MGP midwives enough for the way they supported her and provided her with reliable and updated information.

“Even though everyone was thrown in the deep end, including the midwives, you wouldn’t have known – it was almost as if it was the norm,” Mrs McCullough said.

“I was worried I would miss out on all the things that would have got done, but Amy had everything – I still got the all the blood pressures, heartbeat and everything so I was getting the exact same service.

“But really, it’s better, because I didn’t have to leave my house for it.

Having the same midwife on her pregnancy journey, including for her post-natal appointments, has also been reassuring to Mrs McCullough and is helping her adjust to being a first-time mum.

“I got to have Amy for everything and I still get her now,” she said.

“She was there for everything, she knows me and my personality – it’s just so much easier.

“I had very consistent visits for four days after the birth.

“After giving birth and having to turn around back into your crazy new life that you don’t know yet is very draining – so having someone you know and already trust come to see you and your baby just makes it a lot easier.”