Letter from the founder

Kia ora, I can hardly believe I have been on Planet Earth as long as I have! And yet there seems to be such an undercurrent of imminent change that will see both the science and the sense of what is known as the first 1000 days come to fruition. A time we may look back on and say, “what took them so long?”


The robust body of evidence that recognises the critical importance of the first 1000 days has been with us for some time, is replicated universally, and has finally taken hold in New Zealand through the bold initiative of MidCentral DHB. Working together, this DHB is the vanguard of what is possible. Engaging the philosophy of a social enterprise (Te Papaioea Birthing Centre) and the rigorous expertise of the maternity unit of the DHB, we can expect the best outcomes for mothers, baby, and whānau. Our midwives of New Zealand should expect to practice the art to which they are so rigorously trained, working across the sisterhood of primary care, secondary care, and our community midwives (LMCs). Working together, we can make this the gold standard.


Being witness to, and educated in the mores of traditional societies, I am continually impressed and convinced that we are fast losing our way in the care and respect of motherhood. It is not about the ’bump’, or how quickly one regains one’s figure, it is about the joy of creating new life. Whether that is planned or not, each life is unique and irreplaceable and that is a fact. We, the people, the community, the Government, have a social responsibility to nurture and comfort those who are vulnerable. Every pregnant (hapu) woman is vulnerable. Her vulnerability may come from different directions but what each woman needs is to be cared for, to know someone is on her side. She has a human right; we have a responsibility.


I am excited that this is the International Year of the Midwife. We are not looking for platitudes from Government. For Government to say they are behind this we need to see real action. We insist on tangible action. I am told we have the midwives, but midwifery numbers are eroding. When we fail our midwives, we fail our mothers, we fail our families, and we fail to grow a healthy society. We see the catastrophic effect of not caring for those most vulnerable, and I am not talking about children. The children’s future is in the hands of parents who have hope.


I cannot put the importance of the intimate relationship between mother and midwife more succinctly than these two mothers:

“In Melbourne I had no choice of midwife and instead was passed around to different people, never seeing the same doctor or midwife more than once. It felt very impersonal and disconnected. It is a far more personalised experience in Aotearoa and the opportunity to build a relationship with one midwife makes all the difference. After a number of discussions, and meeting my midwife I felt so much more at ease. I knew we had made the right choice to return to New Zealand for the birth. I trusted I was being looked after by a professional and Amo’s calm and attentive nature made me feel I was important and truly cared for.” - Kylie Wright (estimated delivery date 20 April 2020).


“Until I had my first child, I had no prior knowledge or insight as to what maternity care would be like in the UK. During my pregnancy I was assigned to a community midwife team. They don’t work in the labour ward. They manage women pre- and postnatally, but don’t generally deliver any babies. Over the course of your pregnancy you build a pretty close bond with your community midwife. After all, you are sharing one of the intimacies of one of the most special experiences of your life with them. I remember by the end being sorely disappointed that Lucy or Jo wouldn’t be at my actual birth and even though I knew this all along, it was still gutting and added further angst to what is already an anxious time in the lead-up to giving birth. But essentially, in the UK if you don’t give birth to your child within a 12-hour shift, you could go through up to six midwives over the course of 36 hours if that’s how long you are in labour. I think the UK takes a more pragmatic approach to pre- and postnatal care. In a saturated and oversubscribed health system this is perhaps the only way maternity can cope.” - Emily Cook (UK).


Which leaves us with mothers who may not be able to cope.


Be the change you want to see.” – Mahatma Ghandi.


Although not a midwife, as a mother and champion for mothers and midwives, I put myself in this mix. Any separation of midwifery into collectives of primary, secondary facilities, or LMC status divides the sisterhood. Any ‘work to rule’ erodes the true calling.


I have found when resolve is shaken, through threats, accusations, and unkind actions, remember your strength:


”A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on its own wings.” – Author unknown.


Nga mihi mahana,

Chloe ❤️ Chloe Wright