Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Guinea Pigs or Trail Blazers

When I was asked to write something for the ACM blog about the experience of being the first BMid students to get through their training in WA, I realised how difficult it was going to be to sum up the gamut of emotions, the roller coaster ride that my fellow BMidder’s and myself have been on the last 3 years.

We are a diverse bunch of women, some young, some not as young, we have children, husbands, careers, boyfriends, and jobs outside our training to be midwives. Yet I think it is safe to say that for three years we have lived, breathed, eaten, dreamed, hated, loved, and despaired over nothing else but midwifery. Midwifery has been centre stage.

We are the guinea pigs. How often have we heard this girls? The initial reaction to us in some places was palpable. We were told we could not make good midwives (because we are not nurses), that we would not be employed (because we are not nurses), that we would not be able to give certain medications (because we are not nurses). We did wonder at times, if we would be able to do anything at all..........as midwives.

Despite these frustration’s, and thanks to the tenacity and support of amazing and wonderful women: Jenny Wood, Lesley Kuliukas, Janice Butt and our tutors, we marched on because we knew deep down inside that it is midwives we want to be, NOT nurses.

As a group we feel very lucky to have experienced many models of care. We were able to see home birth and family birth centre births. We watched women make informed choices about their care and become empowered in women centred models of care. We experienced continuity of care and developed an appreciation of how continuity of care is the gold standard in maternity care.

We were privileged to develop relationships with many women, and care for them during their pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond. We have been “with woman” for a diverse group of women: women with mental illness, women who are still teenagers, women from remote Aboriginal communities, refugee and migrant women, single and married women, women addicted to substances, diabetic and healthy, free and incarcerated, public and private. We are coloured by these experiences.

We have had three years to soak up the political environment. I am not sure any of us realised JUST how political midwifery and healthcare could be. We are now well informed of this fact and have consented to being a part of the debate. The same debate as always; how do we work together with other health professionals and how do we respect women’s choices.

There are 17 students in my graduating class, and through our trials and tribulations we have leaned on one another for support and friendship. We are grateful that we have had one another and will continue to support each another as we work as midwives. We are also grateful to the hospitals that have provided clinical placements and the midwives who have had the patience to take us under their wings.

So now that we are heading down the birth canal, there is a lot of stretching, and discomfort, a little bit of fear of what it means to be completely responsible for our actions as registered midwives. We have come a long way, and the learning is only just about to start. Most importantly, we have realised (and we hope everybody else does too) that, we are not guinea pigs, we are trail blazers and we are very proud to be moving the profession of midwifery forward.


  1. Congratulations Trail Blazers! When direct entry midwifery programs were introduced in the UK the same concerns were raised re. competency and job prospects. However, once in the 'workforce' the graduates of these programs demonstrated that the concerns were unfounded. Welcome to the profession and good luck for the future!
    Midwife - and not a nurse : )

  2. Trail brazers, definitely. Bring it on! xx

  3. Fantastic to hear that BMid is now well and truly established in WA! Well done to everyone involved. Women and families of WA will be the beneficiaries of your passion and hard work.
    Nicole Carver


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