Call the midwife...
student


An image of UQ Bachelor of Midwifery graduate Stacey Hamer meeting with Jasmine Cameron and her new baby June.

The student experience:
Bachelor of Midwifery

Did you know that in order to graduate, UQ midwifery students must follow 20 expectant mothers throughout their pregnancy and complete 30 hands-on births? It’s a highly demanding degree, and UQ students are dedicated to gaining the most experience they can before entering the workforce.


For UQ graduate Stacey Hamer (Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Sciences '11, Bachelor of Midwifery '19), studying midwifery didn’t mean just attending lectures and completing clinical placements – it was also the chance to go on a journey with expectant mothers throughout their pregnancy and birth, and even beyond.

In order to graduate, UQ Bachelor of Midwifery students are required to follow 20 expectant mothers through the ‘continuity of care’ process. This means attending four antenatal appointments, attending the birth if possible, and having two postnatal visits with the mother and baby – all of which is done in the students’ own time.

One of the women Stacey followed was Jasmine Cameron, who found Stacey through a Facebook group for student midwives during her second pregnancy.

Jasmine said having a student midwife with her for the birth of her daughter June on 12 September 2019 made for a completely different experience compared to her first birth.

“During my first labour, I hadn’t met any of the midwives before as my allocated one had already worked overtime when I went into labour,” she said.


“Having Stacey with me throughout my second pregnancy was such a game-changer to how I felt about the whole process."

"I felt completely comfortable and excited to share the experience with such a beautiful professional.”

Another requirement for UQ midwifery students is that they must complete at least 30 hands-on births before graduating, meaning students work hard to make every birth they can, even though things don’t always go to plan.

“I’ve missed two or three births by minutes, which is frustrating,” Stacey said.

“On one occasion, I slept through my phone because it was a 2am phone call and I woke up at 6am. I missed the birth by six minutes.

“Another time, the mother laboured really quickly and I couldn’t find a carpark, so I missed it by one minute.”

An image of UQ Bachelor of Midwifery graduate Stacey Hamer meeting with Jasmine Cameron and her new baby June.

UQ Bachelor of Midwifery graduate Stacey Hamer (right) with Jasmine Cameron and her new baby June. Image: Anjanette Webb

UQ Bachelor of Midwifery graduate Stacey Hamer (right) with Jasmine Cameron and her new baby June. Image: Anjanette Webb

In today’s world of medicalised childbirth, it can be too easy for pregnant women to be treated like just another patient. Particularly in the public hospital system, where women can often see a different health professional at every appointment.

The ‘continuity of care’ model gives women the opportunity to see the same midwife, or small group of midwives, at every appointment.

Lecturer and Continuity of Care Coordinator at UQ’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, Peta Winters-Chang, said the continuity of care model was the gold standard of midwifery.

“It’s really good for students to be exposed to that model, because ultimately we’d like all women to be able to have continuity of care in pregnancy.”

Dr Ann Peacock, who is a Lecturer and Program Lead for UQ’s Bachelor of Midwifery degree and the Bachelor of Nursing and Midwifery dual degree, said there was extensive evidence showing that continuity of care leads to positive outcomes for both mothers and babies.


“Research has shown that women can have less intervention, including fewer epidurals and less pain relief, because of the rapport that they have with the midwife."

“In high-risk groups, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and teenage pregnancies, the outcomes are clinically based, such as decreasing the rate of pre-term births.”

Peacock and Winters-Chang both emphasised the importance of supporting students in balancing the different demands of studying midwifery.

“Self-care is really important,” Winters-Chang said.

“Not only do they have continuity of care, but they have clinical practice hours on top of that, and then assignments due.”

Peacock said it was also important to emphasise that babies aren’t born between nine and five.

“We talk about that a lot in first year, so it becomes the norm rather than something that they’re not ready for.

“I really hope, and I think this is the case, that the experiences they gain outweigh the disadvantages of shiftwork, because that’s what you find as a midwife. But it’s definitely not easy.”

Stacey agrees that balancing life as a midwifery student can be difficult.

“It does impact a lot. There have been times when I’ve had plans with friends, but I was at the hospital so I had to cancel.

“So, it does consume your life, really. But you’ve always got to try and find that work-life balance.”

Stacey said she tries to make sure she relaxes on her days off.

“I watch a bit of Netflix, or take my dogs for a walk to the beach.”

In today’s world of medicalised childbirth, it can be too easy for pregnant women to be treated like just another patient. Particularly in the public hospital system, where women can often see a different health professional at every appointment.

The ‘continuity of care’ model gives women the opportunity to see the same midwife, or small group of midwives, at every appointment.

Lecturer and Continuity of Care Coordinator at UQ’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, Peta Winters-Chang, said the ‘continuity of care’ model was the gold standard of midwifery.

“It’s really good for students to be exposed to that model, because ultimately we’d like all women to be able to have continuity of care in pregnancy.”

Dr Ann Peacock, who is the Program Lead for UQ’s Bachelor of Midwifery degree and the Bachelor of Nursing and Midwifery dual degree, said there was extensive evidence showing that continuity of care leads to positive outcomes for both mothers and babies.


“Research has shown that women can have less intervention, including fewer epidurals and less pain relief, because of the rapport that they have with the midwife."

“In high-risk groups, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and teenage pregnancies, the outcomes are clinically based, such as decreasing the rate of pre-term births.”

Peacock and Winters-Chang both emphasised the importance of supporting students in balancing the different demands of studying midwifery.

“Self-care is really important,” Winters-Chang said.

“Not only do they have continuity of care, but they have clinical practice hours on top of that, and then assignments due.”

Peacock said it was also important to emphasise that babies aren’t born between nine and five.

“We talk about that a lot in first year, so it becomes the norm rather than something that they’re not ready for.

“I really hope, and I think this is the case, that the experiences they gain outweigh the disadvantages of shift work, because that’s what you find as a midwife. But it’s definitely not easy.”

Stacey agrees that balancing life as a midwifery student can be difficult.

“It does impact a lot. There have been times when I’ve had plans with friends, but I was at the hospital so I had to cancel.

“So, it does consume your life, really. But you’ve always got to try and find that work-life balance.”

Stacey said she tries to make sure she relaxes on her days off.

“I watch a bit of Netflix, or take my dogs for a walk to the beach.”

An image of baby June looking over the shoulder of her mother Jasmine Cameron.

Baby June Cameron. Image: Anjanette Webb

Baby June Cameron. Image: Anjanette Webb

On top of all the time demands, midwives also play an important role between expectant mothers and other healthcare professionals, such as obstetricians, especially when pregnancies are high-risk.

“Crossing that bridge between that high level of medical care and having the end result of a healthy mother and baby, and maintaining the woman’s wishes, can be quite a large span, and sometimes that’s what the midwife does,” Peacock said.

Stacey said that she feels an important part of her role is not just supporting, but also advocating for, mothers.

“In the last few decades, birth has had a lot of negative associations portrayed in the media. A lot of women are very fearful of childbirth, which is understandable if you’re seeing and reading a lot of bad stories,” she said.

“In midwifery, we’re more focused on woman-centred care and continuity of care, and helping the woman make informed decisions for her care.”

Peacock said midwives also faced challenges in being recognised as professionals with specialised knowledge.

“I’ve been a midwife for more than 30 years, and I think that the battles we’re fighting around recognition and understanding of our role are continuing.

"Historically, midwifery was just another year on the end of your registered nursing degree, so it was just another certificate.


"One of the things that I would like to get across is the fact that midwifery is a profession on its own.”

For Stacey, these challenges are all worth it for the relationships she builds with mothers.

“I really enjoy the continuity side of it with the women. It’s really lovely. You get attached to some of the women, so it’s always sad saying goodbye.”

After graduating in December 2019, Stacey started a position as a graduate midwife at Caboolture Hospital this year.

She said she was excited to be working at the same hospital where she had done her clinical placements during her degree.

"I've been there for three years, and I know the staff and the environment. I believe that this support and familiarity will be valuable in my first year out as a new graduate."

She’s also considering becoming a midwifery facilitator at UQ in the future.

“It’s nice to be able to help, because I know what it feels like to be a first-year student when you don’t really know anything or what to do.

“It feels like I’ve come full circle and everything is settling into place.”

Learn more about UQ's Bachelor of Midwifery program.


Due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, all UQ teaching activities have been moved online for Semester 1. However, midwifery students remain in clinical practice and are continuing to support mothers at this stage and are following Queensland Health guidelines.


Do you know of any other interesting UQ degree requirements?

Your comments here are governed by Facebook Terms of Service and UQ Social Media Terms of Use.

Love the printed Contact magazine?
You must subscribe to continue to receive it

From 2020, the print edition of Contact magazine will no longer be posted to all alumni twice a year. 

To align with UQ’s focus on sustainability and reducing waste, you will now receive Contact in your email once a month. You can also find all your favourite feature stories, news, research articles and UQ announcements on the Contact website.

A new-look, premium, printed edition of the magazine will still be produced – however, this will only be posted once a year to UQ alumni who actively subscribe.