What is a Midwife?
A midwife is a health practitioner who is registered under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority. Midwives complete midwifery educational programmes that lead to registration as a midwife.
A midwife is a responsible and accountable professional who works in partnership with women to give the necessary support, care and advice from early pregnancy, through to labour, birth and the first 6 weeks of life. Midwives attend normal births on their own authority, and complicated births in consultation with an obstetrician.
What is midwifery care?
Midwifery care includes preventative measures, the promotion of normal birth and breastfeeding, the early detection of complications in mother and child, the accessing of medical or other appropriate assistance and the carrying out of emergency measures.
Midwifery care is primary maternity care. It is evidence based, holistic and family-centered and is based on informed choice, continuity of care and of carer, choice of birth setting, and collaboration with other health practitioners where necessary.
What is a Private Midwife?
Private midwives work in private practice in a self-employed capacity, running their own businesses and seeing private clients. Clients of private midwives birth at home and in hospitals.
Why work privately?
In my private practice, I work with a small number of families who I get to know very well. I can be sure of my availability for each woman when she needs me. I am able to tailor the care I provide to each woman, ensuring that it best meets her needs. I can offer flexible appointment times, including on weekends, so that both the woman and her partner are able to attend all appointments. Private practice is the best way that I have found to provide the best care and service to my private clients.
What is an Endorsed Eligible Midwife?
Endorsed Eligible Midwives meet a registration standard that enables them to provide Medicare-funded care; order diagnostic tests and ultrasounds relating to pregnancy, birth and the newborn period; and prescribe medications relating to pregnancy, birth and the newborn period. Medicare benefits enable women to claim some of the cost of private midwifery care, much the same way we do when we see a GP. Melissa Maimann is a medicare-eligible midwife and her services attract a Medicare rebate. An Endorsed Eligible Midwife meets certain advanced requirements:
- At least 3 years of full time experience as a midwife;
- Competence to provide pregnancy, birth and postnatal care;
- Successful completion of a professional practice review program;
- 40 hours per year of continuing professional development (20 hours in addition to standard requirements)
- Completion of a Board-approved course leading to endorsement to prescribe scheduled medications
The principles that guide midwifery care include:
- Birth as a normal, yet profound, event
- Informed choice
- Time spent with women to provide information, support and education
- Continuity of care and carer
- Choice of birth place - home or hospital
- Appropriate use of technology and intervention only when needed
How is a midwife different to an obstetrician?
Obstetricians are doctors who complete extensive specialist training in pregnancy and birth and all areas of gynaecology. Obstetricians are qualified to provide pregnancy and birth care to healthy women, as well as women with risk-associated pregnancies and births. They are able to perform assisted births such as vacuum births, as well as caesareans.
All women are cared for by a midwife in labour and midwives provide the bulk of labour care. If the woman's labour is straight forward, an obstetrician would not routinely be involved in her care. However, if the need arose, the midwife would always enlist the support of an obstetrician to provide guidance about the best path to take.
Midwives are primary care providers for low-risk, healthy women throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period and most women can expect to have a healthy pregnancy. However, if the pregnancy or birth take a different path, obstetricians and midwives work together to provide safe care to the woman and her baby.