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What does a midwife do?

Nov 4, 2021   •   
What does a midwife do?

During your pregnancy and birth you will meet people like me, the ‘midwife’ who will look after you and your baby throughout your pregnancy and postnatal recovery.

Specialists in antenatal, birth and postnatal care, midwives are there during the biggest moments in your journey. Depending on where you meet them, dictates what they do. Yes, we are available in Public and Private settings and some will also come to your home as a private midwife as well.

Let’s look at the common places where you might meet midwives and what they will do in each area:

The Antenatal Clinic vs Private Obstetrician
If you are having your pregnancy through the public system, the first midwife you will see is in the clinic or hospital. These midwives will meet you when you’re pregnant and:

  • Provide general pregnancy advice – healthy eating (and the foods to avoid and why), exercise, baby growth etc.;
  • Check your baby’s position and growth;
  • Book tests and scans;
  • Help guide and educate you – what to expect in labour, what to look out for and so on;
  • Answer questions for example about symptoms, changes and old wives tales;
  • Emotional support and mental wellbeing; and
  • Liaise with the doctors if they are concerned about you or your baby.

Some hospitals offer a team midwifery model where a small, consistent team of midwives help you through the antenatal (pregnancy), labour and birth if you are characterised as a low-risk pregnancy.

However, like hiring a doula or obstetrician, you can choose to have a private midwife. This will give you one midwife who goes all through the pregnancy with you, including the birth, and if everything is straightforward, you will have a home birth (if that is your preference).

If you decide to go Private and pay an obstetrician for your care then you will see them for your whole pregnancy, birth and recovery and they will complete all your antenatal care. However, your obstetrician may work in a team of other obstetricians and have a team of covering obstetricians when they are away, not working a weekend or not on overnight. Make sure you check with the obstetrician when booking in if they will be available for your birth or who is in their team if they are not available at certain times.

The great thing about having an obstetrician is they know your full history, whereas in the public system you may meet a few midwives and may not have a choice as to which midwife will be at your birth.

The Birthing Suite
It is an honour and a privilege to be a midwife in the birthing suites at Frances Perry House above The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. Yes, I have been there for over 15 years now and still work with women and support them during their labour and birth.

At FPH, I work with a strong team of midwives and obstetricians. We are with you and your baby during the time you spend in the birth suite or if you need to go for a c-section. We will be there to support your needs and to give you the best positive birth experience. Plus we also calmly wipe up that accidental poo, play your favourite soundtrack, burn essential oils and more.

A midwife in the birthing suite is there to:

  • Provide reassurance and encouragement with your partner and/or support person;
  • Suggest positions and movements – you’d be surprised what relief can be provided with a fitball and a hot shower or bath;
  • Provide pain relief, whether that’s acupressure, gas, epidural or anything in between of your choice;
  • Monitor the progress of your labour, discuss any changes and answer any of your questions and concerns (did you know there are 3 stages?); and
  • Assist in the birth of your baby and removal of the placenta – we’re good catchers!

The Ward
Once baby is in the world, you’ll head up to the ward. For your first baby, emotions run high and you might be sore, amazed, exhausted, elated and frightened. However, no matter what you are feeling, the midwives will be there at the call of a button to assist in areas such as:

  • Help position your breast correctly for a “good latch” as you start breastfeeding;
  • Administer recovery and pain relief (including ice packs for your lady bits);
  • Organise newborn screening tests such as the hearing test and newborn screening test;
  • Monitor and provide routine checks on you, e.g. blood pressure, pulse, temperature, check your bleeding, wound healing etc.;
  • Emotional support for your first post-birth poo, first post-birth walk, for baby being cold, for cleaning the meconium, for ‘it’s crying and I’m not sure why’… And so much more.

Going home and your maternal and child’s health check-up
In Victoria, your state government provides a free health service for all families from birth to school age. You’ll receive a baby bundle, regular check-ups and weigh-ins with a great team of midwives in your local council.
The check-ins are broken up into key stages of development, providing opportunity for conversations about:

  • Feeding
  • Sleep and settling
  • Maternal and paternal mental health
  • Shift to solids
  • Move to childcare and kinder
  • Developmental milestones and more

Instafamous Influencers
Quite a few midwives have successful Instagram followings which provide reels of information on topics including your pregnancy, birth, baby nutrition, baby physio, baby-led weaning, infant safety, home learning activities, baby fashion and more! With many midwives being mums themselves, the information can be good quality and convenient. Remember when you’re following your favourites that they are often not acting in their professional capacity on these platforms, so there will be a bit more opinion and bias. Always cross-check against the relevant health authorities of what is right for your baby and trust reliable sources.

As you can see, midwives will be there along the way with you for your journey into motherhood. Ask us questions, there is nothing too silly and if we haven’t seen it before, we’ll be excited to learn something new.

Anita and Fit For 2
Did you know Anita from Fit For 2 is a midwife and runs her own Conception, Pregnancy and Mumma fitness business in Melbourne? Anita’s programs are available face to face and virtually (live). Anita is also very big on education and has her own online signature programs which cover:

  • Pregnancy care
  • Birth Preparation
  • Easy Birth Preparation and 4th Trimester Preparation Program
  • 4th Trimester Restore your core (1st 12 weeks post-birth)
  • Mummy Body Love (from 12 weeks post-birth)

The tribe at Fit For 2 that Anita has built over the years is amazing with such strong community connection and support. Make sure you read the reviews on her profile of her many happy customers!

For more information about us awesome midwives, take a look at the Midwives Australia website, the Australian College of Midwives website or call 1300 360 480.

Article resources:

Anita Guerra runs Fit For 2 in Melbourne, VIC . Learn more about Anita and Book your Trial today.

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