Midwives’ life-changing impact on Wide Bay families celebrated on special day

The commitment, skill and compassion of midwives is being lauded across Wide Bay on International  Day of the Midwife today (5 May). 

Hervey Bay midwife Jessica Williamson is one of the many dedicated midwives assisting Wide Bay families every day.
PHOTO: Supplied.

Midwives play an essential role in the pregnancy, birthing and neonatal journeys of about 2000 families  each year at the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay maternity units.  

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service also employs midwives who provide valuable antenatal and  postnatal care in rural areas, and bring their skills and knowledge to other teams such as in child health  or emergency department settings. 

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WBHHS Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services Fiona Sewell said the community was  fortunate to have professional and dedicated midwives serving local families. 

“We have great midwifery teams at Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, with experienced members of the team  working with and mentoring their colleagues as they develop their skills,” Ms Sewell said. 

“WBHHS is committed to investing in its midwifery team to ensure that we’re strengthening the care  families will receive into the future.” 

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Midwife Jessica Williamson, 24, said working as part of the Hervey Bay Hospital Marie Gundesen  Women’s Unit team during her postgraduate year in 2019 had developed her passion for the profession. 

“I just fell in love with the unit, with the team and with the community. It’s such a diverse and challenging  career. Every day is completely different,” Ms Williamson said. 

“The thing I love most is being with women every step of the way – from the antenatal period, during the  birth and through to the postnatal period – and helping them with the transition through each of those  stages.” 

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Ms Williamson is now part of the Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) team, which gives eligible local  women the chance to be supported by a known midwife or team of midwives throughout their entire  pregnancy journey. 

“It’s such an intimate time in a family’s life, and it’s really a privilege and very heartwarming to be able to  be a part of that,” she said. 

“And it’s not just during that time that we get to be part of a family’s life. With our MGP work phone, we  get sent messages and pictures all the time from parents who are keen to show us their children’s  progress, which is just lovely. And I swear every time I go out I run into someone I know who’s been  through the unit or MGP! 

“I’m even starting to see some repeat families, which is great.” 

Bundaberg Family Unit midwife Jodie-Lee Nowland said she was inspired to pursue a career as a  midwife through a combination of a desire to help people, her passion for women and children’s health, and her own birth experiences.  

Bundaberg midwife Jodi-Lee Nowland. PHOTO: Supplied.

“It’s really diverse and rewarding. It’s definitely challenging, but seeing a woman get through those  challenges can be the most rewarding part of midwifery,” Ms Nowland said. 

“You have to build a rapport very quickly and earn a woman’s trust. That’s really part of the essence of  being an advocate for a woman – making sure she is being heard, is getting what she wants and has a  positive experience. 

“Being part of bringing new life into the world is magical, but it’s also the special, quiet moments in  between when forging connections, building trust and being present with a woman, where you have an  opportunity to have a lasting, positive impact.” 

Starting in paediatrics in 2016, Ms Nowland worked there for a couple of years before transitioning into midwifery in 2019. She has now completed a graduate certificate in special care and plans to undertake  further study to enhance her skills. 

“It was always something I had an interest in, but it’s something I ended up in later in life because I had  my own business and children,” she said.  

“I’m committed to ongoing professional development to continually enhance my practice and improve the  standard of care for women and their families. I am excited for the future as the opportunities to diversify  in midwifery are endless.” 

Each WBHHS midwifery team is celebrating International Day of the Midwife with staff events such  morning and afternoon teas, and group walks. 

Ms Sewell said it was particularly important for the team to reflect on a difficult 12 months that saw them swiftly change their practices to adapt to the uncertainty women faced when pregnant and birthing during  the COVID-19 pandemic, and the visitor restrictions it brought with it. 

“Our team should be proud of providing a safe service to local families throughout the past 12 months as  we’ve faced so much uncertainty and changes to restrictions,” Ms Sewell said. 

“Our midwives have been adaptable in their workplace practices and supportive of families who have  faced this uncertainty as new parents. It’s their professionalism and compassion that have given local  women trust and confidence during their birthing journey. 

“I thank all our midwives for their efforts during the past 12 months and I encourage them to spend some  of International Day of the Midwife reflecting on what they’ve achieved.” 

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service press release issued 05 May, 2021.

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