12 May 2016
An innovative program that pairs expectant women with student midwives from the University of the Sunshine Coast recently signed up its 1000th mother-to-be as a participant.
It is a significant milestone for the Connect Program that enables USC midwifery students to be active participants through the entire experience of pregnancy, birth and postnatal care.
Program coordinator and USC Lecturer in Nursing and Midwifery Jessie Johnson-Cash said the program had become very popular with Sunshine Coast women since it was introduced in 2012.
“I had a woman contact me recently looking for a student the day she found out she was pregnant. Her sister was already engaged with the program and she had heard of its benefits and wanted to be involved,” she said.
Connect’s 1000th member is local teacher Amy Horton, who said she decided to join after becoming pregnant with her third child.
“As a teacher, I believe in the importance of hands-on learning and I hope that the student will take something special away from the birth of my child,” she said.
“To be part of a real experience is more beneficial to students in developing their knowledge and skills on their journey to becoming the best midwife they can be.”
Working under the direct supervision of health professionals, the students accompany the women to antenatal appointments at USC's Collaborative Midwifery Clinic, public or private hospitals, or with local private midwives.
With the permission of mothers, they can also attend births and provide supervised postnatal support.
Dual Bachelor of Nursing Science and Midwifery student Tamara Spackman said she had experienced a diverse range of pregnancies and births through the program.
“There is only so much knowledge you can retain from textbooks and evidence-based literature,” she said. “However, when you have had the privilege to witness and experience a birth, those learning moments are embedded in your heart forever.”
The USC Connect Program is a collaboration with clinical partners Nambour Hospital, Sunshine Coast Private Hospital and Caboolture Hospital.
Local women interested in joining the program must be less than 35 weeks pregnant. For more details email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0409 598 763.
— Clare McKay