10 May 2023

Midwives celebrated in the Cape

| Sarah Martin
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Midwives Sandy Booth and Anna Humphries with Tayla Mapes and baby Micah Dukes.

WITH more than six million Aussie women about to be celebrated on Mother’s Day this Sunday, Cooktowners gathered last week to pay tribute to the men and women who help guide many through the first steps of motherhood.

Cape York Weekly spoke to Cooktown’s midwife team who were celebrating International Midwives Day with colleagues and local mothers at the “bungalow”, a relaxed Queenslander-style building and the dedicated home of local midwifery services.

Clinical midwife Sandy Booth has been a friendly face around Cooktown for many years while spending time with husband Lawrence, but has recently moved to town permanently as part of the midwifery team.

“I love mothers and the joy of seeing new parents with their babies has never left me,” the fifth-generation midwife said.

“I love when they come back after the birth, and they’ve grown this beautiful baby and they’re getting to show us this wonderful thing that they have achieved as a couple.”

Ms Booth has been a midwife for 40 years, starting her training alongside her mother in Zimbabwe at age 12, and said the Cooktown team was dedicated to providing the best care possible for every mother.

“It’s very important that the mothers are happy,” she said.

“We work as a team, we meet with doctors several times a week to discuss the best possible care we can give, and then we go back to the mothers and they can make an informed decision based on our advice.”

She said the team at Cooktown Multi Purpose Health Service were all working towards a full birthing service but, with the state-wide doctor shortage, had not been able to attract obstetrics-trained staff to re-open the service.

“Although mothers can’t give birth here at the moment, we do have an advantage over many of the larger places in that the women have a midwife from start to finish and they can always contact us even when they are in Cairns or Atherton to have their babies,” Ms Booth said.

“It’s well documented that there’s a higher level of uncomplicated, healthy, great births when you put a lot of effort into antenatal care, so the importance of the good antenatal care that can be given in Cooktown is incredibly important.”

Anna Humphries has also recently joined the local midwife team, moving to Cooktown with her husband and their two-year-old, Alba.

“We absolutely love it, we’re not leaving,” Ms Humphries said.

“We really want to make the bungalow a place women can pop in whenever they want, a real safe haven, even for staff to get to know one another and mothers who have had babies in the past.”

The newest members of the midwifery team have been busy settling into their roles and the community and are excitedly planning their Cooktown Discovery Festival parade entry.

“It’s a backyard theme, so it could be nappies hanging on the line,” Ms Humphries said.

“But I’ve heard some of the gusts here are as strong as a Category 1 cyclone, so maybe that won’t work!”

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