EDITORIAL: Midwives Deserve Recognition For Their Work

The recognition that the country’s midwives are now getting was long overdue. This Government must be credited for raising the profile of this noble profession. For a long time midwives
21 Jun 2016 07:55
EDITORIAL: Midwives Deserve Recognition For Their Work
Mid wives at the opening of the 75th International "Midwifery Today" conference at the FNU Pasifika Campus. Photo: Vilimoni Vaganalau

The recognition that the country’s midwives are now getting was long overdue. This Government must be credited for raising the profile of this noble profession.

For a long time midwives laboured in hospitals and rural settings which have limited facilities to help women give birth. Some births did not have a happy ending for a combination of reasons.

Midwives practice what they know based on their training. Only last year, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services announced a new programme to upskill midwives and educate them for higher qualification up to post graduate studies. This is laudable but it  will focus on a small group at a time.

It is hoped that this  will be a fore-runner to a fully fledged specialist midwifery programme running side by side with the nursing programme.

New yearly intakes from secondary schools should have a choice between nursing and midwifery.

Both streams can then be developed to feed into the bachelors programmes and post graduate studies.

In due time we can develop the midwifery programme to a standard where midwives can handle ante-natal assessment and diagnosis, labour, birth and post natal. They can be trained to take over some of the basic functions performed by a doctor in assessing patients and making diagnosis and referrals.

This can be built in as part of midwives’ scope of practice.

What this does is it will help clear the bottleneck at maternity units because pregnant women are waiting around for one doctor who might have been called to an emergency.

In New Zealand, Britain and Australia midwives are trained to do some of the basic examination usually done by doctors. When they come across something that is beyond their scope of practice they refer the women to specialists.

It may take time and resources to develop this programme to the required level. But what is important is that we need to make a start in laying the foundation now. The ministry is already taking those steps now.

Like Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said yesterday the birth of a child is a moment of great stress for any woman. Her experience can be lightened by the support of the midwives.

There used to be horror stories about women’s experiences in the labour rooms of our maternity units in the way women were spoken to. If they had a choice, they would have given birth at home. We hope they no longer happen now.

Childbirth is one of the most profound human experiences. It can be a tragic and devastating experience or it can be a joyous event.

Even when things go wrong, the emotional support of the midwives makes a big difference.

Mr Bainimarama is right when he says many mothers remember the person who deliver their baby with intense gratitude for the rest of their lives. For the confidence and encouragement they gave them – as well as the practical support – and especially if it is a first child.

He adds “midwives are among the most valued and respected individuals in our societies.”

As midwives gather for this international conference of midwives, co-hosted by the Fiji National University and the Midwifery Today Alliance, let us spare a thought for them for the difficult work they do.





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