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Midwifery: The what and the how

I am working as the Broken Hill Midwifery Group Practice Project Officer, Registered Midwife for the Far West Local Health District. My primary role is to develop and implement a Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) at Broken Hill Hospital. I am initiating the NSW Health ‘Towards Normal Birth’ policy directive recommendation that women have access to Continuity of Midwifery Care. I am responsible for promotion of pregnancy as a normal life event for women and their support networks, while working to address the significant medicalisation of pregnancy and birth in Australia.

I continually consult and collaborate with a multitude of stakeholders, hospital executives, midwives, community and health services and the Broken Hill community in order to develop and implement the new model of care.I develop and consult on documents such as an Operational Plan and Business Case for the new model of care.

I have networked with and travelled to many other MGP throughout Australia, from Dubbo, Orange, Broome, Gosford, Belmont, Mullumbimby and all major Australian cities to learn how they undertook the process. I liaise with the media (TV, radio and print) to encourage community engagement.

As registered midwife, I provide women centred care throughout pregnancy, labour, birth and when women go home with their babies. I support women by providing individual care, based on their unique needs. Working in a remote hospital is a challenge, and one that is very different from my experience in a Tertiary Hospital in Sydney. We face geographical, staffing and resource challenges on almost a daily basis, and as a service, we have to continually develop strategies to address this.

I work in the antenatal clinic, the birth room, the maternity ward and in the community.Many women in Broken Hill have multiple social vulnerabilities so I spend a lot of my clinical time working to support women who face a variety of complex needs. I work with multidisciplinary teams and agencies, such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service and MedStar, to stabilise unwell women and babies prior to be transferred to a major city for higher acuity care.

I can never anticipate what my day hold for me, so walking into work each day is always a surprise. Even on the days I am working as the Project Officer, I will support the ward if it is busy, so I may go from meeting with hospital executives to assisting with the birth of a baby. I rotate through all clinical areas part time, and those days I am acting as Project Officer, I am on the phone, writing, consulting, emailing, having meetings, making posters, organizing events… while my two roles are diverse, they complement one another because when I work with women and their babies, it reinforces the motivation for my job to set up an MGP.

As a Midwife, I like most when I know I have become a part of a woman’s life and story, and the people who are around them can see the relationship we have worked together to develop. I enjoy working alongside people as they create their families, and I find every experience is unique. I love that I get to share in endless versions of “family” and I get a lot of joy out of briefly being part of that. I adore living in a remote location, and I love the rural lifestyle and community in Broken Hill.

As the Project Officer, primarily I am most excited about the opportunity to be able to offer women a service I know is best practice, evidence based and truly women-centred. However I also like most the opportunity to engage with the community and collaborate with many different stakeholders.

I am very excited at the prospect of being able to develop a model of care that has until recently, only been available in metropolitan areas.  I feel passionately about the need to improve women’s access to services in rural and remote areas, and will be studying this topic in the future as part of my PhD.

I feel the Midwifery profession fosters exciting potential for the future. As a career path, the opportunities are plentiful and varied, and my opportunity to become Project Officer at such an early stage of my career is testament to that. Future Midwives should be excited and invigorated by Midwifery in Australia – I couldn’t be more positive about the future for my Midwifery profession and myself. The fulfillment I gain from my career choice sustains and motivates me, so that while being a Midwife is incredibly hard work, it becomes a way of life, and one that has become part of who I am.

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