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Published Friday 5 May 2017

Today is International Midwives Day, a day which highlights the work midwives do. We spoke to a Hutt Valley DHB midwife who is celebrating a particularly special midwives day.

The deliberations have been made and Grace has decided what she wants to name her baby.

The dreary Hutt Valley Autumn morning and the driving rain can’t put a damper on the news of the beautiful baby girl’s name.

The announcement is like a ray of sunshine to her two grandmothers, whose faces light up as they repeat the tiny baby’s name.

“Mabel Ocean Hiess”

Nineteen hours ago little Mabel was helped into the world by midwife, Kim. Her dad, Spencer and her paternal grandmother, Christine, who is also a midwife were there to catch her.

“We were the first to know she was a girl, as she was born!” explains Christine.

Having delivered babies for over 40 years, this International Midwives Day is particularly special for Christine. While she has helped bring thousands of babies into the world, being there for the birth of her granddaughter was something altogether different.

“Every birth is precious, but this was a bit extra special,” Christine says, adding that celebrating International Midwives Day is “a bit like celebrating Mother’s Day”. “It is recognition of your role of bringing new life into the world,” Christine adds and Kim agrees.

“I had worked with special needs children for years, but always knew that I would be a midwife, it was where I wanted to be,” Kim says.

From Christine’s training in 1976, when she did six months training (with a nursing background) to Kim’s three years training, ending in 2009, the core function of midwifes has not changed. Directly translated, midwife means “with women” and this is the focus of all the midwives who work at the Hutt Valley DHB.

It is a 24 hour dedication to the expectant mothers which means Lead Maternity Carers are there for the family whenever they are needed.

Midwives need to be skilled to pick up any variants from how things should be. It is the one-on-one care, guidance and support that not only impacts on the health and well being of mother and child, but the whole whānau, Christine says.

“It is about keeping everyone safe during pregnancy, during birth and after birth, supporting mum and baby, dad and the whole family,” she says.

When she hears the story of her birth Mabel will know just how loved she was when she arrived. Her two older brothers, who are seven and five couldn’t wait to meet her, with her five year old brother feeling very proud to now be a “big brother”.

Grace’s mum, Jane, flew up from Christchurch to support her daughter. Mabel is the sixth grandchild whose birth she has witnessed.

Having had five children of her own Jane knows just how important it is to have family support.

“When you are going through it yourself, you just go through it, but when you see someone you love going through labour, you just wish you could help, even if it meant taking a turn with the contractions,” Jane says.

Spencer adds that this is how women in many cultures are supported, with grandmothers and midwifes and a network of women helping women through childbirth and mothering.

“This is what the whole international women’s movement is about, women helping women,” he says. As Grace and her family continue to gaze at the beautiful new addition to their family, another baby can be heard crying on the maternity ward. In each room, similar scenes are playing out.

While this great step into parenthood is rife with uncertainty, the one constant is that whatever these new mums may need, they can find support, guidance, understanding and wisdom from the midwives who are there to support them.