There have been a number of challenges including access to PPE; the continual changes to current guidelines; finding creative ways to maintain the highest standard of care while observing care guideline limitations; and communication (Much of our communication with each other is visual from our facial expressions and from reading each-others lips as we speak. Full PPE including mask and goggles limits our ability to communicate as we normally do and can create a perceived barrier to effective communication. I am smiling in my PPE photo even though you can’t visually tell).
A major change in my practice since the pandemic has been that I have had to become comfortable with delivering my services in a virtual manner. One example is that I have just commenced online childbirth education classes covering pregnancy, labour, birth and breastfeeding which is exciting as an ongoing model as it increases access for all birthing families even after the pandemic is no longer a concern.
I have also experienced an increase in requests for home birth and early hospital discharge after birth which makes me grateful to be a midwife as I am able to offer a range of flexible choices to families to meet their specific needs and concerns relative to the pandemic.
I have started to use hand gestures such as the thumbs up sign and nodding my head to enable effective communication with my patients during labour when I am dressed in full PPE.
The month of April for my practice brought with it what I call a “birth storm” where all of the babies decide to be born around the same time. Consequently, I had delivered all of my month’s births in the first week of April. The gold standard support I receive from hospital staff, my midwifery colleagues and my admin officer help at times like this to enable me to get the rest I need in between deliveries. I am so grateful to work with such a fantastic group of health care professionals including obstetricians, pediatricians, GP’s, nurses and midwives who have all really pulled together throughout the pandemic to ensure optimal patient outcomes and safety even under challenging circumstances. Situations of challenge and adversity often bring out the best in teams and that has certainly been my experience throughout the pandemic.
My faith in Jesus has helped me to maintain my inner peace and has helped me to live without fear or anxiety even in such uncertain times.
My family have been amazing at helping me keep a positive perspective and at reminding me to focus on the good in everything rather than focusing on the negatives.
My colleagues have been an invaluable support and are always available to offer a listening ear or practical support if needed. I am so grateful for them all.
My amazing patients who are facing each new challenge with a calm, positive and understanding point of view has really made a difference also. I continue to be amazed by the resilience of birthing families who have really risen to meet the challenges posed by this pandemic. I find myself regularly in awe of the grace with which families navigate every challenge including the changes with pain relief options and reduced visitors. We are truly all in this together.