Celebrating the International Day of the Midwife

May 5 is always a significant date in Sue Sweeney’s calendar.


For Portland District Health’s maternity services clinical coordinator, the International Day of the Midwife (IDM) is a day to celebrate her profession and her team.


“It’s a celebration of midwives, our autonomy, our passion for midwifery, our devotion and dedication to the profession and the crucial care to mothers and their newborns ,” Sue says.


“It’s really significant that it is recognised as a specific day and the midwives appreciate that recognition.”


Sue says midwives are proud of their distinction as a stand-alone profession.


“We are health professions but we are different,” she said. “There are many reasons why midwives have chosen to work specifically in this field, and we are all passionate about midwifery and ensuring the best outcomes for women and babies.”


This year’s IDM theme, ‘Together again: from evidence to reality’ reflects the emphasis PDH’s team puts on evidence-based practice, which has been boosted recently with local midwives, Chloe Petch, Sasha Purcell and Alice Maniapoto, joining the national collaborative for pre-term births, known as Every Week Counts. The aim of this collaborative to reduce the rate of pre-term and early term (37-39 weeks gestation) by 20%.


“They bring evidence from the collaborative that will inform change across the whole region,” Sue said. “For example, Ultrasound measurement of cervical length has been established as a very important part of assessing a woman’s risk of preterm birth and all pregnant women should have cervical length measured. This has led to PDH now measuring all women at the mid-pregnancy scan.”


Sue has dedicated much of her working career to the midwifery profession. “I am passionate about midwives working at the highest end of the scope and it’s a privilege to be part of a woman’s journey across the continuum of her birthing experience,” she said.


Sue came to Portland in 2022 to head-up PDH’s revived maternity service and is happy to report that the unit is going strongly.


“We are on track for 80 births this year. We’ve done 33 since reopening local birthing services and have a lot booked for April.”


Many other women are receiving their care at PDH but are birthing elsewhere because they are considered high risk.


“We have a strong midwifey team, including two recent recruits, a new post-graduate midwife and a student midwife to ensure we sustain and grow our workforce.



Caption – Elizabeth Clements, Claire Jorgensen, Alice Maniapoto and Sue Sweeney.