Questions And Answers

WHAT IS AN LMC?

Maori baby being held by Dad, showing Ta Moko

Anyone providing comprehensive maternity care in New Zealand is known as a Lead Maternity Carer or LMC. This may be a self-employed Midwife, a GP or obstetricians.

Most women in NZ (over 75%) choose a self-employed (independent) midwife as their LMC, often for two reasons. Firstly, our care is fully government funded so unlike women choosing private maternity care, you will not be expected to pay anything if you are a NZ resident.

Secondly, many women prefer the woman-centered approach that most midwives offer and enjoy the relationship that usually develops during the course of their pregnancy. Depending on when you approach your midwife, you may be visiting with her or her colleagues for up to 48 weeks (eleven months) which is often more concentrated time than you would spend with any other health professional!  During this time, many women establish valuable and trusted relationships with their midwives, and may return to their care for subsequent pregnancies.

WHAT IS THE PARTNERSHIP MODEL OF PRACTICE?

Newborn Maori baby smiling while being held by mumIn contrast to the medical model dominating maternity care in many countries, The Partnership Model is unique to NZ and supports a holistic approach to maternity care. The Partnership Model views a midwife’s relationship with a pregnant woman as exactly that: a partnership. This means the midwife offers her professional knowledge and experience, while the woman offers her understanding of her own body and individual needs. Both women are equal contributors and neither should have more power than the other.

For a comprehensive summary of midwifery care in NZ, click here.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A MIDWIFE? WHAT DO THEY DO?

For a general outline of my services, click here. Kiwi LMC midwives offer comprehensive maternity care. This includes around-the-clock midwifery support during the antenatal period, labour, birth and post natal period until your baby is 42 days old. This means that either I or my colleagues are available to work with you from the early days Newborn Maori baby enjoying skin to skin contact, showing Ta Mokoof pregnancy, through your labour and birth, then visit you at home right up until your baby is six weeks old. Should you require a specialist service such as obstetric, anaesthetic or peadiatric care, you will have free access to these practitioners if and when you need it. Like G.P’s, midwives are able to refer you for ultrasound scans and blood tests, and prescribe all of the medications relevant to a normal pregnancy. In the unfortunate event of a miscarriage, midwives are trained to support you, and refer you to specialist services as appropriate, so you should not wait until after the first trimester to begin looking for a midwife. Plunket, a nursing support service catering to babies and young children, request that all new babies be referred to their care at four weeks of age, after which time some midwives may cease their postnatal visits, but are still available for midwifery-related issues should the woman request it.

WHEN IS MY MIDWIFE NOT AVAILABLE TO ME?

Self-employed/independent midwives are usually on-call for their women 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This means that even when we are not working, we are still working! Unlike those who work regular hours, weekends or days off as a midwife are usually infrequent and therefore guarded carefully! When enjoying some planned time off, we rely on midwifery partners to provide back-up care. The back up midwife usually has her own caseload and should be able to offer support during every aspect of your maternity care. We also rely on collegial back-up in situations such as attending another birth, if sleeping after working through the night, if sick, or when attending professional development workshops.

SO, MY LMC MIGHT NOT BE AT MY BIRTH?

Because the nature of childbirth is so unpredictable, it is very unusual for any LMC to be able to guarantee their attendance at the birth of your baby, regardless of their profession. Unfortunately, even a midwife with a low workload may not be able to predict her availability at the time you go into labour. Because of this, it is important to meet your midwife’s back-up colleagues during your pregnancy, know how to contact them, and to be aware in advance about any time off your LMC may be planning.

Newborn Maori baby portrait

“Thank You so much for being such an amazing midwife. I really feel that you have played a big part in why I had such a positive pregnancy and birth. I also really appreciate you coming to my birth even though you were so tired! I hope you can be my midwife again for baby number 2!”
Leah, Dylan & Phoenix