Midwifery is both an art and a science – providing holistic care to the woman and family before, during and after pregnancy. Margie Dimech talks to midwifery student Laura Biggs and new mother Emma Read about their shared experience.
Laura Biggs, midwifery student
"Once I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be a midwife, I was angry with myself for taking so long to realise that midwifery was exactly what I had been searching for!
After completing one year of a biomedical science degree, I knew it wasn’t for me. I have always had an interest in anatomy and physiology, but I never wanted to do pure science. I wanted to be part of a ‘people profession’.
Midwifery is often described as ‘an art and a science’. Part of this science is the need to have a deep understanding of the physiological mechanisms involved in childbearing. This knowledge informs many midwifery decisions. The art of midwifery includes building a partnership with the woman, as we do in the Community Follow Through Journey.
We are involved in the Community Follow Through Journey over the three years of our degree, working with a total of 20 women and families. Midwifery is about building trust and mutual respect between the midwife and the woman, and the Community Follow Through Journey enables us to put this into practice in a meaningful way.
Midwifery doesn’t just involve the mother, but rather anyone the mother deems important to her journey. This might be her partner, sister, parents or other children. Bryn is Emma and Paul’s first child, and it was very special to be involved in such an important time of their lives.
The Follow Through Journey is an essential part of our midwifery education. As students, we actively seek women who are interested in being part of the program. Students make contact with women through other midwives, GP clinics and online forums. I also went to prenatal yoga classes. You value the relationship with the mother more, because the responsibility is on the student to find women and their families to build these partnerships with.
I’m really glad that I was able to offer support to Emma and Paul during their pregnancy, in particular on the day Bryn was born. The day was understandably stressful for Emma and Paul who were not expecting to be told their little boy would need to come into the world close to a month early. For me, the Community Follow Through Journey has been the most rewarding part of my midwifery degree, and now that I’m in my final year of study, I’m quite sad that my involvement in the program will soon be over.
According to the international Definition of the Midwife, a midwife is involved with the woman and her family for up to six weeks after the baby’s birth. Bryn has just had his six-week follow-up appointment so this will be the end of my professional journey with Emma."
Emma Read, mother
"When we went into hospital in the early hours of the morning we didn’t expect that Laura would be joining us so quickly. I sent the text message thinking she would read it when she woke up in the morning. But, with what must have been midwife intuition, Laura woke up and came to the hospital.
Bryn Atticus Moloney was born on 5 March this year, four weeks early. Laura was with Paul and me when my waters broke all over the hospital carpet. It was comforting to have Laura by my side telling me that I was in the best place for my waters to break early and that at least it wasn’t my carpet!
I found out about ACU’s Follow Through program at my natural birthing class and made contact with Laura four months into the pregnancy. Initially I didn’t want a stranger present at the birth; I had a friend lined up to be my second support person. I became more comfortable with the idea as I got to know Laura and decided to invite her to the birth.
Laura is a square peg in a square hole; she is perfectly suited to midwifery and has been a great support. Bryn was taken to the nursery while I was in recovery after my caesarean, so it was special for Paul to have Laura with him at this time.
My aunty came from England as a Ten Pound Pom. In England it was normal to give birth at home with a midwife. When she arrived in Australia, she was shocked that women had to stay in hospital and couldn’t breastfeed their babies at night because they were being looked after in the nursery. While healthcare has obviously changed, I believe more options need to be offered. I may have had five days in hospital after Bryn was born, but I had no follow-up care until my six-week check-up appointment. It is important that the model of care available is flexible and able to suit the woman’s specific needs.
I would definitely use a student midwife again. I think it is really important to add to the knowledge-base of the community. I was under the impression that it would be an opportunity for the student to learn from my journey. It wasn’t my intention, but I found that in the end it was me who learned from Laura."
If you are interested in participating in the Community Follow Through Journey, or would like more information, please contact Jane Morrow at email@example.com.