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Expectant mum Rhianna Phillips and her Caseload Midwife, Cindy Partridge

Cultural care for local Aboriginal mums

23 Sep 2019


When Rhianna Phillips fell pregnant for the first time she was anxious about engaging with the hospital system and who she might have to trust with her and her baby’s care.

Rhianna’s discovery of the Aboriginal Caseload Midwifery program however, soon enabled her to connect with a culturally-sensitive midwife for the duration of her pregnancy journey.

“When you’re Aboriginal it can be hard to build that trust”, says Rhianna. “It makes us feel safe if we have a friendly person to go and talk to – someone who understands our culture and how we go about things.”

In line with the program, Rhianna’s midwife Cindy was contactable 24/7 and could visit Rhianna at her home, as well as being available for appointments at either Nepean Hospital or the local Community Health Centre.

Clients of the service can also be connected with an Aboriginal Hospital Liaison.

“The model works well with our Aboriginal community as it is a personalised service,” says Cindy. “One primary midwife caring for the client means trust can be established easily and clients and families feel comfortable in our care, as often they find it hard to open up and tell their stories to different midwives or doctors throughout their pregnancy.”

The Aboriginal Caseload Midwifery model strives to ensure that women who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander feel culturally safe and have a genuine partnership with the health care system.

“Finding a caseload midwife has been amazing”, says Rhianna. “Having the same person throughout the whole process makes it a lot easier. I can just text my midwife and go and see her, usually straight away.”

Midwife Cindy also finds the program rewarding. “It’s especially great with first time mums – helping them prepare for the new baby, and then seeing them grow in confidence as they become parents. We also keep in touch and we see each other out in the community, so it’s a nice job.”

“We can easily liaise with the doctors, social workers, psychologists, child and family health nurse and other allied health professionals to ensure holistic, safe and effective care for mother and baby.”

Since speaking to us for this article, Rhianna has given birth to her baby Nash and both are doing well.

To request Aboriginal Caseload Midwifery as early as possible in your pregnancy, call the Women and Children’s Outpatients Department at Nepean Hospital on (02) 4734 2373 and asked to be placed on the waiting list.