I continue to be a full time midwifery lecturer and aim to have one or two midwifery clients per year. However, in the last 18 months I have worked with 11 women. This has worked out really well because most the women birthed during student breaks/holidays. I have only missed 2 lectures in 7 years of doing this. However, I really need to use all my holidays now for academic work. I also badly hurt my back last year so I am trying to ‘pace’ myself now.
Until last year carrying out clinical work was a voluntary activity but now is a requirement because I teach in clinical papers and have to keep an APC. I feel it is really important for me to be seen as a midwife to maintain my credibility as lecturer for undergraduate students, as well as being able to ‘connect’ with postgraduate students and midwives in association with my PhD research. As an educator I am very concerned about the expectations of us - research, clinical, professional development required by Otago Polytechnic as well as the Midwifery Counciland so on. I am not sure that this level of activity is sustainable in the long term.

As I write this reflection, I am also reflecting on what is happening to midwives in our community. I feel practice is becoming increasing fraught what with the fear of being hauled in front of a court of law and the ever-rising expectations of Midwifery Council etc. It seems that you can’t even breathe without having to document it and be able to prove it later. The last few births I had I could feel myself feeling fearful and feeling nothing but a great sense of relief when the women birthed without someone dying. The joy of midwifery is being squeezed out of me. I never thought I would think of hanging up my plastic gloves but it’s getting harder and harder to enjoy being a midwife. That is a problem for me in my teaching job. How can I motivate and enthuse my students when all I want to say to them is “get out now while the going is good!!” The boundaries of my practice are getting smaller and smaller which have the potential to reduce choice to women. I also believe that support for midwives from NZCOM and Midwifery Council is decreasing eg attitude to breech birth. This is a real worry for both midwives and women. Nevertheless, my strategies for keeping ‘safe’ are the same as they’ve always been – discussing everything with women, very good documentation and communication with hospital team. I use the core staff and my colleagues at OP as information resources and for debrief. I am possibly a tad quicker to ask obstetricians about things, but I think that is a confidence issue because I’m not practising all the time. I don’t believe that’s a bad thing and I won’t be changing that. The only snag is with that is there is a risk of things becoming medicalised so I watch out for that.

Having said all that, I remember what my friend Sara Wickham said last year about making a difference in women’s lives. I have been reminded of that very recently when I bumped into two previous clients who were obviously really pleased to see me. Also, a current client said how pleased she was that I was her midwife. So I hang on to those words and hope they’ll sustain me for another year.


Feedback from women

New Zealand College of Midwives' Standards of Practice

Standard 1 - Working in partnership

Standard 2 - Informed choice and consent

Standard 3 - Collating information

Standard 4 - Documentation

Standard 5 - Planning midwifery care

Standard 6 - Midwifery actions

Standard 7 - Accountability

Standard 8 - Evaluation

Standard 9 - Completion of midwifery partnership

Standard 10 - Sharing midwifery knowledge

Information resources that I use with women

Professional development plan

Evidence of Review Completion