NSWNMA welcomes state’s first Birth Trauma report

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has welcomed the release of the NSW Select Committee on Birth Trauma report, which includes 43 recommendations to overhaul maternity care in the state.

The recommendations focus on investing and expanding midwifery-led continuity of care models, including Midwifery Group Practice, and addressing staffing shortages through improvements to pay and conditions for midwives.

The inquiry acknowledged that a ‘one size fits all’ approach was inadequate, and that tailoring care to meet the needs of women was essential for improving outcomes.

NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary, and midwife, Michael Whaites, said this inquiry had been a long time coming to address birth trauma and the impacts on women and midwives.

“Midwives do an extraordinary job and they strive to provide the best care they can to women and newborns in a system that is under-resourced and understaffed,” said Mr Whaites.

“This inquiry shines a light on areas of midwifery and maternity services that have been ignored for too long. We hope this is the start of positive change that will benefit women on their maternity journey, and ensure this incredibly rewarding profession has the structures, resources and support systems to deliver safe, patient-centred care.

“We are pleased to see the inquiry supports our view of addressing midwife shortages with competitive pay and working conditions, and a staffing model with the appropriate skill-mix.

“We continue to advocate for safe staffing ratios in maternity with one midwife to every three women in postnatal wards, and urge the state government to fund this important workforce initiative.

“One recommendation involves establishing formal debriefing clinics to decrease birth trauma, which would be run by midwives. Given the current workforce shortages, this wouldn’t be feasible without ratios that provide adequate staff and skill-mixes.

“We continue to hold concerns around the dilution of the midwifery workforce, with midwives roles being eroded and replaced by assistants in midwifery (AiMs) and nurses. If we want to see improvements to the way maternity care is provided in NSW, we need to start with rebuilding the workforce.”

Mr Whaites also acknowledged the efforts to provide psychological support to both women and midwives, as well as education and training.

“It’s encouraging to see the committee recognises the impact of birth trauma on midwives too, by recommending debriefing and psychological support for maternity clinicians following their exposure to a traumatic birth,” said Mr Whaites.

“We know birth trauma is avoidable and preventable and we’ll continue to advocate for universal access to midwifery-led continuity of care, as we know these models provide the best outcomes for women.

“We hope all 43 recommendations are implemented by the state government so we can begin to create long lasting change in the way maternity care is provided in this state.”

Join over 77,000 nurses and midwives in NSW by becoming a valued member today.

You’ll automatically become a member of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation