Midwives under pressure

17 October 2022

Midwives are facing significant issues with staffing across Australia. ANMF Branches have reported unmanageable workloads in postnatal wards, poor staffing skill mix, midwives being replaced with other health practitioners, burnout, decreasing job satisfaction, moral injury and vicarious trauma.

There are concerns these issues are resulting in increased intrapartum intervention, insufficient and fragmented postnatal care and suboptimal short and long term outcomes for the health and wellbeing of families. With decreasing hospital lengths of stay, particularly for uncomplicated presentations, women, babies and families are missing out on essential midwifery care. Midwives are having to rely on providing the bare minimum, interventionist and procedural aspects of care to avoid serious adverse events and outcomes. The holistic, woman-centred aspects of midwifery care are being lost to the high pressured, fragmented and short staffed environment. To rectify this situation, action is needed.

We need to enable midwives to get back to being midwives. Working together we must ensure that midwives are the ones providing care in midwifery contexts of practice; the workload of caring for newborns is recognised in postnatal ward midwifery staffing; students and new graduate midwives are supported by midwives; and there is midwifery leadership at all levels within organisations providing maternity services and at all levels of government.

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