Date02 December 2016
Being a midwife in Australia in 2016 is tough.
Being a midwife can mean seeing the best and worst moments in life. For all the incredible pride and passion you bring to your job, it can be difficult to find recognition or to feel valued for the work you do.
When we asked midwives and ACM members to tell us about life at work, over 57% of you said you expected the next 12 months to become more difficult*. No matter what environment you work in, challenges around models of care, autonomy of practice, legislation, litigation, staffing, skills and training continue to grow. Experienced midwives report burnout; early career midwives struggle to find supportive mentorship.
ACM is continually working on the issues that lead to these challenges; lobbying, advocating for midwifery, pushing for positive change within government, within health services and in the wider community. And now we’re trying to tackle these problems from a different angle: we want midwives to create change…starting with you.
You’re a midwife because you want to enable women to be strong, confident mothers, because you want the best possible start for babies; because you care.
Caring for others means you need to take care of yourself.
The research tells us that when we don’t take time to engage in self-care and compassion, we are likely to experience higher stress levels, decreased physical and mental health and an increased risk of burnout.
Constantly caring for and supporting the women and babies that you work with is strenuous. Doing so in a toxic work environment, or in a culture that prefers to talk about fear than love can be debilitating.
The evidence shows that practising self-care and compassion can increase happiness, decrease stress and increase your ability to ‘bounce back’ from difficult situations and challenges. When you are stressed and your oxytocin levels are low, you have less to give to others. Self-care is not a selfish act: actively looking after yourself and your wellbeing means you can more effectively support the women in your care.
It is an ongoing challenge for midwives to make time for self-care: you may be exhausted; burnt out; at the end of your tether. There are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you need or want to do. We want to support you to continue as strong and confident midwives, so that you are able to effectively support the women in your care to become strong and confident mothers.
We believe that small changes can make a big difference…
That is why we have created the ACM Kindness Campaign.
“I believe that kindness will make a difference, and we can all do little things to be kind to ourselves and one another. It is also important to be informed and aware, thoughtful, questioning and strong," - Caroline Homer.
This campaign is brand new territory for us at the College. A new, direct way to support you as midwives. We have spoken to many midwives to determine the different ways we can support you, and we have identified six areas we think are key:
- Mindfulness and Meditation
- Physical Care
- Goal Setting
- Resilience and Workplace Strategy
- Pay it Forward and Compliments
- Digital Detox
Throughout December we will publish articles, quotes, practical tips and tricks, research, and much more around these six areas to support and empower you to establish self-care and to practice self-compassion in your life and workplace. These will not be time-consuming, expensive or hard: small changes that you can implement to make a big difference. These valuable resources can be used all year round in your personal life, or in your workplace, to introduce more compassion and self-care.
Try them out and provide us with feedback on what works for you, or ideas that you have at email@example.com. We also want to see the different ways you are being kind to yourself. Tag us in your photos and posts with the hashtag #ACMKindness, and show us what simple steps you’re taking to bring more kindness and compassion into your life and workplace.
If you would like to know how you can be involved in the campaign, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few research links to begin with...
Barnett, J. E. Psychological wellness and self-care as an ethical imperative. http://www.apa.org/careers/early-career/psychological-wellness.pdf
Cynthia, A., Blum. "Practicing Self-Care For Nurses: A Nursing Program Initiative". The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing 19.3
Tartakovsky, M. (2016). How Clinicians Practice Self-Care & 9 Tips for Readers. Psych Central,
*n=571, July 2016
ACM Kindness Campaign
Seven tactics to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
Kindness Cards and Self-care calendar
Seven ways to introduce buoyancy to your life
Physical Care and the Benefits of Yoga
How to Enjoy 'Me Time'
Attitude of Gratitude
The Power of Meditation
How to Set Goals
Having the Courageous Conversation - FREE WEBINAR