Midwives say not enough staff for best practice

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... To Queensland now where a coronial inquiry is calling into question the practices of the state's maternity hospitals and midwives.

It investigated the third smothering death of a newborn baby in a Queensland hospital in six years and the latest coronial inquest is recommending a review of midwife supervision of patients.

But the Australian College of Midwives argues more supervision is not possible without more staff.

... The peak professional body for midwives says the evidence is clear.

... If a woman is going to be breastfeeding a baby in a bed then a midwife needs to stay with her, someone needs to be there. Once the breastfeed is completed, the baby needs to be put back into the cot. That is best evidence that supports safe sleeping.

ANNIE GUEST: And is that a practical measure in Australian hospitals? Do midwives do that, do they have time?

HANNAH DAHLEN: And this is now the reality, and this is the really important question that we need to deal with - no. Midwives often don't have time, midwives are often rushed, in fact many hospitals now don't have midwives.

... Back in 2008 after a long labour going one and a half nights, first time mother Zelia Blomfield gave birth to a baby girl at about two o'clock in the morning.

She had been tired and nauseas and a nurse helped position her to breastfeed in bed.

But about three hours after the birth, Bela Heidrich was found cold and blue beside her mother ... staff believed she hadn't been seen for anywhere between 10 to 40 minutes.

The coroner wants Queensland Health to review patient supervision levels with a view to framing them within a consistent approach, but the College of Midwives gives this warning:

... It's very difficult to get down to prescribing times. If the Government is wanting to prescribe times then the Government needs to get its act together and provide midwives ...