Louise Paterson - Community Midwifery Services


As a Community Midwife for nearly 30 years I have always had a passion for supporting women through the process, but there has always been a common theme running through without me realising it. I was actually preparing them for Motherhood.

Coming from a strong maternal and nurturing background, I realised early on that in this time of a woman’s life she needed more. It was not because she was not capable, but more that she was  vulnerable when she was carrying an infant or immediately after birth. She is open to suggestion, to self- doubt, to fears, to mistreatment even. She needed support, friendship, guidance and a helping hand. Then all could be well.

In this Modern world it is even harder to find that support, and so often women struggle and feel like they have failed, when really it is society that has failed them.

My new programme: Motherhood 101 (website still being finished) aims to take a look at Modern day Motherhood, and provide mothers with a different type of resource, one that provides information that is not readily available or discussed in some care settings.

It is information that I believe is important for women to be aware of, it is aimed to be thought provoking and inspirational, and to help them transition to Motherhood more smoothly.

In this country my problem has always been that no one understands the Community Midwife Role, and that saddens me. We are a much loved and respected Community Practitioner in the U.K, and a big influence in families lives.

In Australia I have to practise as a Private or Independent Midwife which is closest to the role, but does not really do it justice.

I try and explain to Mothers that we have been recognised by AHPRA for being an experienced practitioner with extended and additional skills, and in recognition of this role we have been allowed to become a Medicare Provider.

We are experienced in all aspects of Pregnancy, Birth and the Postnatal Period, and:

·        Can do home birth

·        Can look after all low risk pregnancies, and diagnose deviations from the normal.

·        Order routine ultrasound scans

·        Prescribe medicines relevant to normal pregnancy and beyond

·        Liaise with extended Primary Health Care and Hospital teams

·        And practice in many different work settings, including solo or in a group, or with an Obstetrician, or Obstetric team.

We also have an important role in:

Public Health Information – as Community Practitioners our role is to educate not just the new parents but the extended family and their Community, to ensure they understand the importance of good health and wellness in Pregnancy and Beyond.

Education: All our information has to be relevant, up to date and research based, so a lot of our non- clinical time is spent in study and self- learning to ensure we meet these targets. To register each year we have a set number of hours we must reach to stay qualified.

Role Model for the Midwifery Profession:  because we are often senior practitioners with many years of experience, we will often have student midwives doubling with us, to learn their midwifery and communication skills, and how to liaise in the Community.

Our role is very different from a hospital midwife who never practices on her own, but as part of a larger team. We are responsible for all the care we give, so it needs to be of a high standard.

We can work in many different ways.

And not all Private Midwives do birth. Our extended roles have often made us specialists in more than one area. My passion, and my colleagues: Lisa Marshall and Helen Gordon, is good antenatal and postnatal care.

And particularly ‘Wellness for Pregnancy, Birth and the Postnatal Period.’ Both physical and emotional wellness.

What does that mean?

Physical Wellness:

As Midwives we are looking at any issues that concern you: the minor disorders of pregnancy, that although often quite normal, can be quite debilitating for some women. There is usually something that can help, and we will provide you with some ideas and suggested treatments.

Some maybe mild medical conditions that are stable but need keeping an eye on, such as previous diabetes, thyroid disease and a history of higher than normal blood pressure, may even be familial. We would liaise with your GP/Obstetrician if this was the case, but if stable, we can still continue to care for you.

We also ensure that your body remains in a state of balance by ensuring that you maintain a good diet, take supplements if required, and ensure that your work versus rest ratio is sustainable.

Body alignment and exercise should also be part of your routine preparation for birth and beyond.

Emotional Wellness:

We look at this no differently than any physical symptoms, we are all subject to both, and there is a better awareness these days which helps.

Family history, unresolved issues from childhood, past trauma, a history of anxiety and or depression all matter to us. All are relevant to the care we can give you in pregnancy.

How you cope with stress/change all needs to be considered, then we can help you with your confidence, feeling of wellbeing and your determination and motivation.

All these issues can make a big difference to how you feel about your pregnancy, how you will birth, and how you will approach Motherhood. 

How do we do this?

We listen, we talk, we point you in the right direction, and then provide support and continuity and hold a safe space around you during the process.

How to achieve this successfully?

We need to be integrated into a forward thinking, woman centred care setting, working with practitioners who understand the importance of continuity of care and are willing to practice collaboratively.

Elsternwick Obstetrics and Dr Saul Cohen has aligned with our philosophy.

We have joined with Dr Saul Cohen because he has the same philosophy of good health and well being and is so passionate about listening to women and their needs and wishes re:birth.

I have learnt from experience that the very best of care comes from like minded professionals working together across the continuum to care for women.

This integrated model of care, like the Birth Centre Model of Care, which joins both midwifery and obstetric providers together, ensures that women are cared for holistically and seamlessly. Consequently, their experience of the journey is one of deep satisfaction, their confidence in themselves as a woman and mother stays intact, and their personal growth continues: ‘FROM MAID TO MOTHER’ as it should always.

Wishing you a pregnancy that you can enjoy, a birth you can be proud of, and a postnatal period filled with joy!

Kind Regards