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Celebrating the first babies born in the International Year of the Midwife

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On the first day of the year we traditionally celebrate the first babies born in our communities.  This year we have something extra to celebrate: the midwives who are part of new families’ lives through pregnancy, labour and birth; and the first six weeks of parenthood.

The 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva 2019 designated 2020 as The International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.  Nursing and midwifery are separate professions and we will be highlighting the unique role of midwives in our communities throughout 2020. Look out for monthly profiles of midwives who work throughout the Southern District.

“Southern DHB is thrilled to dedicate 2020 to acknowledging the importance and expertise of midwives,” says Heather LaDell, Acting Director of Midwifery.

“Midwives work in a partnership and evidence-based model of care with women, ensuring that each woman gets the care that best meets her individual needs.”

Quick Midwife Facts

Midwife means “with women”. Midwives are registered health professionals who provide skilled, knowledgeable and compassionate care to women and their babies during pregnancy, labour and birth and the first six weeks after birth. 

Midwives have different roles. 

Midwives who work one-on-one with individual women through pregnancy, labour and birth, and the postpartum period are called “Lead Maternity Caregiver” midwives, or “LMCs”.  LMCs work everywhere there are pregnant women and new families across our District, travelling sometimes vast distances to provide care when needed day and night -- whether it is a planned pregnant or postnatal visit, an acute assessment when a woman or baby is unwell, or birth care.

“Core” midwives work in maternity facilities when women are getting care either in hospital (at Dunedin or Southland Hospital) or in a primary maternity facility (Oamaru, Balclutha, Gore, Winton, Lakes and Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital).  These midwives can sometimes attend a normal birth, help a new baby and mother get comfortable with breastfeeding and provide life-saving emergency care - all in one shift.   

Midwives are part of a broader healthcare team. They continually assess the wellbeing of women and babies in their care and refer to other health professionals for additional care, including GPs, obstetric or neonatal specialists, mental health care professionals, lactation consultants, social workers and others. 

Southern DHB midwifery care fast facts:

An average of 9 babies are born each day in our District. We are on track for an increase in births in 2020.

Midwives are a precious but scarce resource – there is a critical shortage of LMC midwives in Dunedin, and “core” facility-based midwives across the District.  A hospital-based Outreach Midwifery Team provides care in Dunedin to women who are unable to find an LMC midwife.

21 rural LMC midwives are receiving a rural retention subsidy from Southern DHB in recognition of the additional challenges of providing care in remote rural settings.

For “First Baby of 2020” information on 1 January 2020, media can contact:

Queen Mary Dunedin:  Associate Charge Midwife 027 788 2880

Southland Maternity:  Team Leader 027 241 6162

Lakes Maternity Unit:  03 4410015