Kate Hawkesby: Midwives deserve more support during Covid-19 outbreak

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Apr 2020, 11:31AM
(Photo / Getty)

Kate Hawkesby: Midwives deserve more support during Covid-19 outbreak

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Apr 2020, 11:31AM

It's concerning the extra lengths midwives are having to go to just to look after their new mums, or mothers to be.

And it’s concerning because midwives are already a group largely ignored or seemingly invisible. They've been last in line for any PPE or support, they seem to have been forgotten about.

Community midwives in particular are often the last to see any protective gear, and it's not like you can social distance in their job.

For midwives, the timing of all this is extra jarring given they were battling last month for extra funding. And now, not only are they expected to carry on in less than ideal conditions, they're having to step up and do more.

I see one midwife reported having to go to the local shops for one new mum to buy her breast feeding equipment, just so the new mum didn't have to leave her bubble. That's the midwife's own time and money there, being generously poured into helping someone else.

But for how long can they pour from an empty cup?

I don't understand why midwifery is not prioritised more highly given all it involves, from the psychological support, to the exposure to bodily fluids, to the emotions around it, to the immense resourcing required when more women opt for home births given the current crisis.

On top of more mums wanting to avoid hospitals, there are fewer labs which means more midwives are taking their own blood tests for their clients and then having to transport them to labs.  

Many have said they're near breaking point and I am not surprised. It's a heightened stressful time as it is, and they seem bereft of any tangible support from government.

When asked about midwives, Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said, they'll look into it. He said they want to make sure women being cared for by midwives are getting other options for support and care so it doesn't all fall on the midwife.

But what about the midwives themselves? Where's the care and support for them? There are many health workers doing incredible things right now at the coal face of this crisis response, but it would be remiss to forget midwives in all of this.

They are literally bringing new lives into the world at a very challenging and uncertain time, they're over worked and under paid.

And all of this at a time when the government is bailing out and supporting a lot of other industries and health workers. It seems only fair that midwives be on that list for support too.