International Day of the Midwife: Celebrating Midwives in Medical Research

May 5 2021

Midwives play an important role in maternal and newborn health and wellbeing.
On 5 May 2021, we celebrate International Day of the Midwife and acknowledge this contribution and recognise the extraordinary profession and the role it plays in society.

As front-line, health care professionals midwives are natural researchers, forming critical bonds with families and exploring how they can provide the best care for women and newborns during the antenatal, birth and postnatal periods.
We've recently welcome a number of research midwives to our community here at HMRI with the launch of the NEW1000 Study, a longitudinal pregnancy cohort study that will see 1,000 babies and their families each year to enhance the understanding of how the first 1,000 days of life can impact health and wellbeing throughout life.

We spoke to research midwives Richelle Powell, Anne Wright, Skye Doel and Bridget McCleery about why they chose to become involved in medical research.

Richelle Powell

Richelle is a Registered Midwife at Hunter New England Health's John Hunter Hospital and has enjoyed working with local families at the hospital since 2015. She has worked in all areas of maternity within the hospital, including the birth suite, postnatal ward, maternity assessment unit, antenatal clinics, maternal-fetal medicine unit, first-trimester screening clinic, and the high-risk antenatal ward.
Richelle has enjoyed rotating through the different roles within the hospital and has gained a wide array of midwifery knowledge
Richelle joined the University of Newcastle's Mothers and Babies Research Centre in 2020 as a Research Midwife and will lead the recruitment and ongoing assessment of NEW1000 families.

Richelle's interest in research and the NEW1000 project has come from working in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Unit at the John Hunter Hospital and in turn working with women who often have complex, high-risk pregnancies. "The New1000 study has the potential to help so many women, especially women with high-risk pregnancies. I am so excited and grateful to be a part of this study, that will hopefully lead to many positive changes in our maternity care."

Richelle also enjoys being able to provide continuity of care with the NEW1000 participants. It is lovely to form a relationship with the women at 12wks and then see them at 20wks, 28wks, 36wks, birth, 6wks postpartum and 6months postpartum.  

Anne Wright

Anne Wright is a senior research midwife and has worked for the University of Newcastle's Mothers and Babies Research Centre for over 15 years, recruiting families for a variety of studies. 
Anne sees the value in investing in medical research and acknowledges that evidenced based data from numerous international studies have highlighted that scientifically led intervention can successfully challenge the rates of preterm birth and stillbirth. Anne hopes that by foreging the future, following the data and investing in midwives these rates will continue to improve.

Skye Doel

Skye has worked as a clinical midwife for the last five years providing care and support to women and their babies during the antenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal periods.

She and has a passion for woman-centered care, breastfeeding and lactation support, and providing up-to-date evidence-based education to empower women to make informed choices for their health and wellbeing.

As a midwife Skye is acutely aware of the importance and value of research within the profession. Research informs clinical practice, including the care and support we provide to women and their babies every day.
"To be a part, at the very beginning, of this exciting research project, NEW1000, is absolutely amazing. I get to work with a fantastic team of dedicated and committed researchers and health professionals who want to make a difference, to better understand pregnancy and health outcomes.

Bridget McCleery

Bridget has over 22 years of experience in Nursing and Midwifery, including planning, implementing, and evaluating service improvement and developing a team midwifery service in clinical practice to improve birth outcomes and care satisfaction for women.

Bridget is passionate about evidence-based practice and providing culturally safe, inclusive care for all families.
Bridget recently joined the NEW1000 study as a research midwife after coming across from the birth suite at John Hunter Hospital. "I was very excited to join the team as I have seen, some sad stories in my career and would love for every family to have a positive birth outcome." she says.
"The NEW1000 project could hold the key to so many amazing changes for future health and I am so happy to be part of that. So far, the women, and their partners have been fabulous and are just as excited to be part of this ground breaking research."