Why are midwives distressed about their workloads and pay? One city-based midwife detailed her week of 2am phone calls, breastfeeding problems and 5am dashes to hospital for The Wireless.
The College of Midwives says she likely earned about $12.80 an hour for her work (midwives are paid per women in their care and not for the hours they spend on them). From that, she paid for her own petrol, to rent a clinic and for elective education.
Read the diary of a rural midwife here.
Hours: 6.30am - 6.15pm
My first phone call was at 6.30am from a client of my backup midwife who was in early labour. I work closely with another midwife so we can have every second weekend off. I get her calls until about 9am on Monday. I contacted my backup and let her know one of her ladies was in labour and she took over from there.
I headed off to my antenatal clinic, which started at 8.30am. I saw six women. During that time, I had about three phone calls from the hospital regarding one of my clients who was there being induced. After the third call I had to go because she was in active labour so I cancelled my last antenatal appointment and headed to the hospital.
I was with her at the hospital from about midday to 5pm. That was a great birth. It was her first baby and there were no problems.
After I left the hospital, I went and did a postnatal visit with a new mum. I got home at about 6.15pm.
Hours: 9.30am - 8.30pm
My day started about 9.30am when I did four postnatal visits; two with women with breastfeeding problems so they took a bit longer than usual. There was one anxious mum which also took a bit longer.
I then went and visited a woman at her home who was contracting but not yet in full-blown labour and spent about 40 mins with her. I went back home and did some paperwork before she called again. We headed into the hospital at about 3pm and I left at about 8.30pm after the birth.
Hours: 2am - 3am, then 5am - 6.45pm
I got a phone call at about 2am from a client who was onto her fourth baby. She was contracting but she wasn’t quite sure what was happening with the labour. She has interesting labours where she goes from early stages of labour to full-blown labour really quickly. The last birth was incredibly fast and that was a bit traumatic for her so I went to see her at home and got back in bed at about 3am.
She phoned again at 5am and we headed straight to the hospital. She had her baby at 6.15am. I went directly to the antenatal clinic from there for my appointments for the day. I finished there at 1pm and had four postnatal visits at mothers’ homes. One of those took an hour-and-a-half since it was a very anxious mother with a few mental health concerns. I had another visit about a 30 mins drive out from the city. I got home at about 5.15pm and did an hour-and-a-half paperwork before going to bed.
Hours: 8.30am - 2am
I started at about 8.30am and went into the hospital to do a postnatal checkup. That was followed by an elective cesarean section so I got out of there at about 12pm. I then had four postnatal home visits until about 4.30pm and then headed to an education session from 5 to 7pm. Other than compulsory education, most of the education sessions are in the evening because that’s the only time midwives can make it. At 9.30pm I was called to the hospital for a labour and I got home by 2am, after the baby was born.
Hours: 8.30am - 5pm
My first appointment was at 8.30. I did three postnatal visits then had a bit of a break where I went home and did two-and-a-half hours of paperwork. I did another postnatal visit and then a couple more hours of paperwork. I went off call for the weekend at 5pm.
What I haven’t mentioned is all the texts and phone calls. They’re just constant. I reckon I get at least four texts a day from somebody wanting a midwife in December because it's a very busy time. During the day, I would do at least 20 texts and up to 10 phone calls for mums, hospitals, specialists - everyone.
I do an average of 500 to 600kms a week and spend about $140 a week on petrol. I also pay for the rent of the antenatal clinic.
As told to Mava Enoka. Edited for clarity and brevity.
Cover image: 123rf