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Pregnant women sought to help educate the midwives of the future


29 March 2010
Extra support for mums-to-be is now available with Southern Cross University seeking women from the northern end of the Gold Coast to Port Macquarie in New South Wales to link with Bachelor of Midwifery students who will accompany them through their pregnancy and birth.

Midwifery students based at the University’s Lakeside campus in Tweed Heads are currently being matched with women who have been pregnant for 35 weeks or less to learn with in a supportive role at antenatal and postnatal appointments, as well as at the labour and birth if the woman permits.

Associate Professor of Midwifery Heather Hancock said the students would supplement the usual care available to women in their pregnancy as part of the Midwifery Continuity with Women strand of their studies.

“The care normally offered to women in pregnancy is not affected or altered in any way; it simply means there is another person there who they know and are familiar with, to support them,” said Professor Hancock.

“The student does not take over the woman’s care, but is part of the experience - which can be a comfort for the many women who, due to the current healthcare system, may see a different person every time they attend for checkups.

“The priority is the woman - she will have the opportunity to express preferences about what she wants from a student and in each case we will choose students who will harmonise with the care relationship the woman already has.

“We have a number of Indigenous students in the course, so we are particularly interested in hearing from mums-to be who are of Aboriginal background.

“For the students the aim is for them to have access to experience-based learning for their future practice. We can provide a good learning environment, but nothing can recreate being with a pregnant woman and the wonderful learning opportunity they provide through their unique experience.”

Each Bachelor of Midwifery student is required to follow 30 women through their pregnancies over the three years of the course (10 women per year), attending at least half of the labours and births. For each pregnancy they must attend a minimum of three antenatal appointments and three postnatal appointments.

Tweed Heads-based student Cassie Nest and first-time mum-to-be Beth Nevill have already attended their first antenatal appointment together.

“I don’t have relatives living nearby so personally I welcome the extra support, but I also believe very strongly each woman should have one midwife who sees them through their pregnancy so it’s my way of helping support the movement towards this kind of woman-centred care in general,” said Beth.

“My midwife may not be on duty when I give birth, and although my partner will be there it will be nice to have someone else there who has been present through the whole process and has a good understanding of what birth preferences I have in mind.

An added bonus is that Cassie is a mother and so she also brings some of her own experience to the role.”

Cassie agreed that she was looking forward to the coming months.

“We have already discussed some of Beth and her husband’s ideas about how they would like things to work, so we already have an understanding and it feels very natural,” said Cassie.

“Once I have completed my degree I’ll be running antenatal classes, so this is directly relevant, but most of all it’s amazing to get this kind of one-to-one experience as part of my education.

“I chose to study midwifery because I wanted to help give women choice by supporting and empowering them in a nurturing environment and I already feel I am making a small contribution.

“As an Aboriginal woman, midwifery will give me the opportunity to help my people and contribute to ‘closing the gap’ between indigenous and non-indigenous maternal and perinatal outcomes.”

Southern Cross University is seeking women from the Gold Coast to Port Macquarie who are have been pregnant for 35 weeks or less to participate in the Midwifery Continuity with Women strand of the Bachelor of Midwifery. Women from an Aboriginal background are encouraged to apply. To enquire call 0458 789557 or email [email protected]

Photo: (L-R) Mum-to-be Beth Nevill, student Cassie Nest and Professor Heather Hancock

Media contact: Zuleika Henderson, media officer, Southern Cross University Gold Coast and Tweed Heads: 07 5506 9385 or 0408 644533