The front line of COVID-19 response usually conjures imagery of Nurses in personal protective equipment (PPE) gear or first responders disinfecting public property, very little is mentioned about the response of Midwives working in the community.
Midwives are hidden in ordinary clothes, and less is spoken of the few Māori Midwives performing daily miracles to attend to whānau needs. As we have experienced during this pandemic, most things stop or cease to exist; however, babies continue to be born.
For most, if not all māmā and pēpi, Māori Midwives are the only source of health information, other than what is shared on media. The Māori Midwives become moderator and translator of COVID-19 talk for many whānau, despite the mixed messages sent to health professionals and the late arrivals of PPE equipment. Māori Midwives have maintained or surpassed clinical expectation and shown ingenuity and keen initiatives to continue to care for whānau in their communities.
The Māori Midwives in Kahungunu ki Heretaunga have done just that, become Leaders of Maternity Care and Public health practitioners during this pandemic. Kahungunu ki Heretaunga Midwives have continued, as much as possible, to keep things normal for the many worried māma by assuring them and protecting them in their bubbles.
Despite the changes to practice and exclusion of whānau being present at hospital births, many Māori Midwives have found ways and means to accommodate the traditions and customs while maintaining the best clinical practice. These deeds are rarely noticed to the untrained eye as they navigate mainstream policies and guidelines to support the wishes and expectations of whānau. And so, the International year of the Midwife is an opportunity to celebrate our Indigeneity that we bring to Māori Midwifery