In Australia, midwifery students are required to follow women throughout their pregnancy, birth and after birth under the supervision of a midwife or doctor. This gives the student and the woman an opportunity to experience ‘continuity of care.’
Continuity of care is a term used to describe care that is provided by the same midwife or group of midwives across your pregnancy, birth and after the birth. Care provided by someone you get to know from the very beginning of your pregnancy and all the way through has been found to improve a woman’s overall experience of childbirth.
The student will attend some of your antenatal appointments and will contribute to your care during labour, providing additional support to you (and your partner).
They will be involved in your birth experience, birthing your baby with the support of a midwife or doctor, and will visit you within the first six weeks after your baby is born. This is a professional learning relationship that will conclude following the final visit.
You will get to know the midwifery student who will offer you support throughout your antenatal, birthing and postnatal experience. Sharing your thoughts and feelings over this time with a designated midwifery student can give you the opportunity to develop a one-to-one relationship that can be a positive and reassuring experience.
Students are encouraged to provide care that is focussed on your individual needs, expectations and aspirations. Midwifery students are keen to share their knowledge and can be a great source of information.
Students learn first-hand about women’s experiences during pregnancy, birth and the first few weeks with a new baby. This helps students to understand more of what midwifery is about and how they can better work with women.
Students learn that midwifery care involves a partnership between the woman and the midwife. In this partnership the woman is considered the ‘expert’ for herself, her body and her baby.
The COCE helps students to develop their practice in order to provide care that is holistic in terms of addressing a woman’s social, emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual and cultural needs. It prepares them to work in a variety of models of care once they are registered midwives.
Importantly, they get to understand a variety of perspectives and ways of thinking that is very important when caring for women and their families.
Finding a midwifery student is easy.
Sometimes a student will introduce themselves to you while you are attending an antenatal appointment or just out and about, but no need to wait; if you would like to have a midwifery student provide continuity of care throughout your pregnancy and birth experience please fill in the Expression of Interest form.
Once you have submitted this form, the COCE Coordinator from Flinders University will allocate you a student. The midwifery student will contact you via phone or email and arrange to meet with you. A good way to do this is to organise to meet 30 minutes before your next antenatal appointment. You might like to come with some questions for the student and also share something about yourself and your ideas about what you are expecting for this pregnancy and birth.
The student will also have an opportunity to introduce themselves. Once you have met the student you will be asked to complete a form which indicates that you have agreed for this student to follow you through your pregnancy and birth experience.
Remember, you can change your mind about having a student at any time.
Your choices and maternity care will not be affected in any way. You are in charge and can decide what you want to share with the student. The students follow clear professional ethics and are required to maintain confidentiality and professional conduct at all times.
Midwives are registered health care professionals qualified to provide care for women during pregnancy, labour, birth and after the birth. They specialise in normal pregnancy and birth and collaborate with other health professionals when complications arise. They may practice in hospitals, community health centres or in the home.
A midwifery student is someone who is undertaking a university degree to become a midwife. As well as covering the knowledge required to be a midwife, they engage in clinical practice under the supervision of a midwife or doctor.
Once you have agreed to have a student follow you through your pregnancy, birth and after the birth, you will need to let the student know where and when you have antenatal and postnatal appointments so they can meet you to attend appointments. It is also important to keep the students phone number available so that you can call them when you think you are in labour and going to have your baby.
Students follow clear professional ethics and are required to maintain confidentiality and professional conduct at all times.
Yes, you can change your mind about having a midwifery student at any time. Your choices and maternity care will not be affected in any way.
If you decide you do not wish to continue with the COCE for any reason, you can contact the COCE Coordinator at the University via Midwifery.COCE@flinders.edu.au and they will notify the student or you can speak with the student yourself.
No, this is an experience between yourself, your midwife/doctor and one student.
In order for the student and yourself to gain the maximum benefit from this experience we would like the student to have attended at least one antenatal experience by 34 weeks.
Yes, we encourage the student to participate in the birth experience and this is a desired outcome for the student experience. However, if for some reason this is not possible the student can still provide antenatal and postnatal care.
The student is able to provide care under the supervision of a midwife or doctor. With your consent this may at times involve some procedures such as taking blood, giving injections, listening to your baby’s heart rate or applying a monitor. You will always have the final say in who provides care during your pregnancy and birth.
The student will be actively involved in your birth experience; this will include birthing the baby and providing care straight after birth. They will also attend two of your postnatal visits up to six weeks after birth.
We encourage students to provide care for women with whom they do not have a close relationship already.
The COCE is a professional relationship and therefore once they have attended your final postnatal visit the student will no longer participate in your care or the care of your baby.
No, students should meet you at your scheduled antenatal appointments.
We acknowledge the support of the University of South Australia who have shared this program with Flinders University.
"Having a midwifery student made me feel a lot more relaxed about the pregnancy and birth process as I knew I'd have someone familiar with me the whole time.” - Sam
“The student I was assigned to work with was lovely, approachable and in regular contact enabling me to develop a relationship with her.” - Keryn
“As a student I found COCE's the most fulfilling and wonderful part of the course and was privileged to follow through some women in two pregnancies. I wish I had known this was available when I had my own children." - Tiffany
“Meeting the women early in their pregnancy allowed me to get to know them, their family, their care provider and vice versa. You know what they want and what they don’t want, and you can advocate for them on their big day.” - Adele