On 20 July, midwives across Australia conducted an audit that told us the number of babies in our hospitals and whether there were a safe number of midwives providing care to them.

Read the full report findings here


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About our Count the Babies campaign

A midwife’s workload increases dramatically when a baby is born. But currently, a mother and her baby are considered one person, both in terms of midwifery allocation and health funding. 

Right now...

Queensland’s midwives are enduring dangerous workloads. More than 50% of Queensland’s midwives believe there is seldom or never enough midwives to provide safe, quality care.  

This means mothers and newborns are vulnerable because midwives cannot provide the safe, quality care they are capable of.

Midwives want to deliver quality care to women and their babies. But at the moment… 

  • Midwifery staffing levels have not kept up with increasing acuity levels of mothers and/or babies, including babies requiring extensive care.
  • Interventions and high acuity rates for mothers is resulting in significant breastfeeding issues, which are not being addressed in a timely manner due to unmanageable midwifery workloads. 
  • Women and babies are being discharged too early and without the level of support they need from their midwives.
  • Midwives are getting caught up in a bureaucracy of red tape and paperwork. Clinical guidelines are resulting in significant workloads and intervention of otherwise well and healthy babies.
  • IT systems cannot even count the workloads associated with babies.
  • A woman’s ability to access midwifery-led models of care is determined by where she lives, rather than choice. These models of care are proven to deliver best results for mothers and babies, but are not readily accessible to most Queensland women. 

What are we doing about it?

The QNMU is stepping up its campaign around safe workloads in midwifery, with a focus on counting babies in workloads in postnatal inpatient units.

Nurse-to-patient ratios are already rolling out across Queensland Health facilities thanks to the QNMU's Ratios Save Lives campaign , which draws directly from world-class evidence that demonstrates improved outcomes related to staffing and work environments in nursing and midwifery.

But there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the impact of midwifery workloads on outcomes for women and their babies. 

What are we asking for?

Our Count the Babies campaign strives to have newborn babies counted in midwifery workloads. This will require action from both the Federal Government and the Queensland Government.

  1. The Queensland Government must trial a model of minimum ratios in two maternity wards (as they committed to doing at the last election).
  2. The Federal Government must overhaul the current funding models so care of newborn babies can be appropriately funded.

You can watch a recording of our campaign briefing, which was delivered to QNMU members on 27 January 2022. 

For any queries regarding the QNMU's Count the Babies campaign, please email [email protected]