Research finds midwives suffer post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing traumatic births.

Midwives are left struggling after witnessing trauma such as injury or death, abusive care by family members, or care not undertaken in a sensitive way, reports ABC news.

A recent study of 707 midwives concluded that midwives carry a high psychological burden and PTSD should be acknowledged as an occupational stress, and exposure to incidences reduced.

More than two thirds reported having witnessed a traumatic birth event, that included how a patient was cared for.

The study, published today, also found midwives recalled strong emotions during or shortly after witnessing the traumatic birth event.

A total of 75 per cent of midwives felt horror and 65 per cent felt guilt about what happened to women in a traumatic birth.

Griffith University professor Jenny Gamble said midwives unfortunately often say that they feel powerless to either intervene to change the way care is provided by other healthcare providers.

They also often felt pressured to make a decision by another professional, Professor Gamble said.

“Alternatively they may feel that the mother’s expressed wishes are overridden by organisational requirements of the hospital during the birth,” Professor Gamble said.

“If a midwife feels that she can’t do anything about these situations, then these can produce feelings of stress which can escalate.”

Midwife Teresa Walsh told ABC NEWS while it was a great profession, it could also be quite a sad time.

She said unfortunately institutionalised care and the highly-medicalised care that women received in hospital was not always warranted.

Ms Walsh said that included intervening in births which could complicate the birthing process.

“Women need to be able to develop a relationship with their care provider,” she said.

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  • Such a hard subject – midwifery would be hard under normal circumstances and I would imagine very stressful if something went wrong or even partially wrong. So easy to blame them for it.


  • You’ve got to give them credit and respect what they do.


  • We all have stress in our jobs… if they don’t agree with it then they should go private or be a doula or something.


  • Midwives are the ones that made me feel most comfortable. My last two births I only had the midwife there and my husband.


  • I would imagine it would be very difficult not to dwell on your work as a midwife when you leave the hospital.


  • In my experience, the midwife is nearly the most important person in the birthing suite. They do most of the work, whilst the Dr comes in at the last minute to deliver. I can imagine the Midwife is left to deal with the sadness and trauma of births that don’t result in a live baby. Midwives are angels and should be treated with love and care and consideration for all that they do.


  • Giving birth is a traumatic experience. It’s not surprising the midwives sometimes suffer with what they see and gave to deal with


  • Sadly I know of one case where the situation was reversed. The midwives ignored the surgeon and stood around laughing and talking reckoning the Mum’s labour was going ok at over 30 hours and the Mum vomitting continuously. An emergency C-Section was delayed because the Surgeon had to repeat the instructions twice. The baby was also in Foetal distress.


  • Midwives are amazing in the job they do! I don’t believe l could do it!


  • I know a midwife and she is always very upset when she has a Mum that loses a baby. I know that she then has a cry and struggles to get to sleep that night. Its a wonderful job with a lot of joy but there is the negative side of it as well.


  • Mid wives are wonderful people and this sort of thing should not happen to them. With doctors no longer wanting to be doing this practice due to being sued so often, we will have nothing left to fall back on if the mid wives also leave the profession.


  • I think that midwives are amazing. Many have the chance to develop a good relationship with their patients in the prenatal clinics. So when the birth experience is bad, as humans, they can be affected.


  • That doesn’t suprise me. They would witness alot


  • I can imagine there are traumatic situation for the midwifes, as there is for all personal staff in any type of hospital or medical line of work and as there is for the mother who gives birth and her family as well.


  • My midwife was amazing. Although my birth was normal, I was still thankful for her presence and re-assurance.


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