Belfast Telegraph

Much more needs to be done for midwives

Editor's Viewpoint

Many people will be disturbed to discover that midwives in Northern Ireland are having to pay for their own trauma counselling and that they receive only one hour of bereavement preparation during their three years of training.

There is something beautiful within families when a baby is expected, but when a pregnancy ends in a miscarriage, or a stillbirth, the trauma can last for a lifetime.

The death of a baby or the sudden end of a pregnancy is an experience that words alone cannot convey.

Midwives play a crucial role in the life of a family at a time when parents are at their most vulnerable. Fortunately in most cases they share in the joy of a happy and healthy birth.

Sadly, however, there are those occasions when they have to witness a stillbirth, which is the most devastating of circumstances.

Emotionally this is a most difficult time to deal with, but midwives' professional training has to take over when they provide vital support for the parents.

It is inevitable that such loss undoubtedly takes an emotional toll on the midwives. They deal, quite literally, with matters of life and death, and they need training and counselling to help to prepare for the challenges of such emotional and physically demanding circumstances.

As a society we owe it to these people to care for them and they would not be seeking the appropriate therapy and training if they felt that they did not need it.

Given such a background, it is really shocking that they are only given one hour of preparation counselling during their three years of training.

This is a serious shortfall and people will be asking why this is so.

Midwives need every help to deal with such situations and to ask them to pay for bereavement training is nothing short of an insult.

This may also make them feel undervalued and those responsible for midwives' training should look again at what needs to be, and must be, done.

It is obvious that we must look after our health professionals on whom we depend to look after us.

The life of a baby is precious, and every effort is needed to make sure that when anything goes wrong, there are trained and caring professionals who are there to help bear the burden for those who need so much help and comfort in a truly terrible situation.

Belfast Telegraph


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