The midwife is not a doctor, but her job is to help midwives perform their duties and to ensure that the woman who delivers a baby is delivered in the safest way possible.
But as the midwife’s role changes, so too do her expectations and responsibilities, and it’s that lack of preparedness that can leave her and her colleagues vulnerable.
Midwives and OB/GYNs in particular are becoming more and more scrutinised for how they perform at the hospital.
A number of hospitals have been accused of under-reporting the number of women they have treated for complications of childbirth, with some admitting to withholding information that could have helped them to keep their patients safe.
The issue has been brought to the fore by the case of midwife Erin Curtsons husband who died on New Year’s Eve.
A new study by a team of Australian midwives found that midwives were not prepared for the challenges of treating complex and potentially dangerous women with potentially fatal complications.
The research team surveyed 41 midwives across Victoria, Queensland and NSW.
“We found that they weren’t prepared to deal with women who had a serious or life threatening condition, or were in a critical condition,” said Dr David Wilson, the study’s lead author.
“They were unprepared for the complexities of delivering a baby at home and their own medical knowledge, training and experience.”
Dr Wilson said he was concerned about the number and severity of complications midwives faced.
“If you’re not prepared, you’re putting yourself in harm’s way and you’re taking your baby’s life,” he said.
The study also found that women who were told they needed more training to deliver a baby were less likely to get that training.
The findings follow a spate of high-profile cases of doctors, midwives and other healthcare professionals failing to ensure midwives have the appropriate training, and potentially putting their patients at risk.ABC News reported last week that a former OB/Gyn at Victoria’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital who had been admitted for a heart attack and cardiac arrest was rushed to hospital where she was pronounced dead.
The midwife who had to perform CPR for a woman who collapsed in hospital had not been trained in CPR.
Dr Wilson told The Age that the current lack of training by midwives is creating a “lack of empathy” for patients, and “a lack of trust” between midwives.
“They don’t know how to be a professional.
They don’t understand what it takes to be safe.
They’re not trained to deal in a dangerous situation,” he added.
Dr James O’Malley, who teaches obstetrics and gynaecology at St Vincent’s University in Melbourne, said midwives need to work together to train more people.
“I think there needs to be more understanding, understanding of what the challenges are and what the risks are.”
Midwives can be trained to handle a variety of complications, from blood clots to caesarean sections.”
Midwives are very skilled and they do a very good job, but I think we need to make sure we have a better understanding of how we’re training and how we have to communicate with each other.”
Midwives can be trained to handle a variety of complications, from blood clots to caesarean sections.
But Dr Wilson said it was critical that midwis were not given too much leeway.
“The midwives who do the best work and get the most people into hospitals and hospitals are going to be the ones who have the most critical roles,” he explained.
“So you need to have very specific and very well-trained roles that are very well defined, and that’s what midwives should be doing.”