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The Wire: Midwife shortages affecting postnatal care nationwide

3:00pm on 10 May 2022

Interview by Trishil Dahya on The Wire With Christina, Adapted by Sam Ashton 

Listen to the full interview

Limited beds and staffing issues have resulted in mothers being asked to leave postnatal care early. 

Dr Alison Eddy from the New Zealand College of Medicine told The Wire's Trishil Dahya that we are experiencing a nationwide shortage of midwives. 

Dr Eddy says registered nurses are having to take over caring for new mothers and their babies in postnatal centres. 

"Midwives have specialist training that nurses don't have to provide care in those early hours and days after birth."

Since the beginning of the pandemic, overall interest in becoming a midwife has increased, with job security and community service being important factors in the increase in interest. 

Despite this, the challenging and expensive four-year degree and the lack of registered midwives to help train midwives during their placements have limited the number of new midwives coming into the workforce. 

A typical length of stay in postnatal care after birth is 48 hours, but it can be longer. However, it has been reported that people have been asked to leave as little as three hours after giving birth. 

With the 2022 budget announcement looming, Dr Eddy says she wants to see more focus on initiatives that support retaining midwives in the profession and funding to improve the pay rates". 

"The minister of finance announced funding for the apprenticeship scheme, and I think we should be looking at something like this for midwives."

​Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.