Rural doctors are taking their hats off to the midwives delivering babies in rural and remote Australia on May 5 - International Day of the Midwife - in recognition that they keep the heart of rural birthing beating.
Dr John Hall, president of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), said that birthing units pay an essential role in keeping many rural hospital services going, and midwives provide the key to achieving this.
"Safe and sustainable birthing services are only possible when staffed by a comprehensive team of doctors, nurses and midwives who work together to provide the best outcomes for rural mothers," Dr Hall said.
"A Registered Nurse (RN) Midwife not only cares for birthing mothers close to their home, but also often have broad ranging, generalist skills and experience to provide high quality care across a range of hospital settings.
"Without the dedication of rural midwives thousands of families would be have to travel hours to access birthing services, and Birthing on Country would be unavailable to many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
"The maintenance of rural birthing services is essential to rural communities and the International Day of the Midwife is the perfect opportunity to show our support to all of the team members who work hard to ensure their hospitals are able to continue to offer maternity care."
Midwives are also often able to provide culturally safe care options, such as for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, which is an important component of Closing the Gap for health outcomes Dr Hall explained.
"Research has shown that that rural maternity units save lives and improve outcomes, and if not for RN/Midwives that undergo the high level of training required to deliver maternity care as well as general nursing care, rural birthing services would not be able to be maintained and many communities would suffer greatly," he said.
The RDAA recently partnered with the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RANZCOG) to present a report to Federal politicians on the importance of rural birthing services.
"We know that rural birthing is safe and provides better outcomes, not just for birthing but across the hospital generally, as it maintains a higher level of capability within these facilities," Dr Hall said.
"Rural birthing is the beating heart of so many bush hospitals, we need to see it return in locations where is has been lost, and we need quality midwives in order to achieve this.
"We thank all the midwives working in rural and remote Australia for the care they provide, and the difference they make to women, babies and families within these communities."