On why resilience shouldn’t be an end goal for midwives: Or anyone


Often, in conversations about midwifery, pay parity, working conditions, the level of workforce crisis the profession is working within, the goal of leaders is building resilience. It is a word that is more and more commonly bandied about, as midwives are stretched thinner and thinner in every possible work area. Whether midwives are employed, self employed, primary, secondary or tertiary, they are pushed to always meet the needs of the population of childbearing people, regardless of the resources they have (or do not have)to achieve this goal.

The goal is a great outcome, a wonderful supported, safe and spiritually or emotionally rewarding birth for each family. A supported transition to parenting, with easily accessed services to support those who have any challenges, including access to other health services, such as physiotherapist, specialist medical services, obstetric services, screening tests, counselling services, mental health services, lactation consultants: the list goes on. A smooth transition to a caring well child provider and a supportive GP. Support in accessing such social services as may be needed. In a perfect world, everyone would have equal access to these services and nothing would ever go wrong.

New Zealand has a world class maternity system, which the rest of the world often looks to as a role model for what should be achieved to support women in birth at a relatively low cost, compared to the obstetric models of some other western countries. NZ midwifery leaders are highly valued internationally. We achieve continuity, safe outcomes, constantly improving perinatal outcomes and amazing progress in research and development of the midwifery profession. We are world leaders in relation to education, care provision and outcomes. This should be celebrated, but …..

We have a crisis

The Crisis is worsening

Midwives are giving up

They feel isolated and unsupported

The research says we need courage to do our jobs…

We are underpaid and overworked and torn between our lives and our work

We are fighting for our very ability to do what we are so good at: and to be paid adequately for the work it requires. Why?


We have a significant workforce shortage, long predicted due to an aging workforce, populated mainly by women of childbearing age. These women, who work with our most vulnerable populations, women and babies, have been underpaid for decades. The workload and responsibilities have grown year on year, with no matching pay growth. The costs of remaining registered go up. The costs of petrol, phones, business: all go up. But our recompense, for both employed (or core/staff/hospital) and self Employed (or LMC/Independent) midwives, remains woefully low.

Midwives are retiring, leaving the profession,reducing their hours, and leaving the country at alarming rates. This leaves women struggling to find care givers: And exposes the dark underbelly of the system. DHB services CANNOT MEET the needs of women in their populations without LMC midwives. They do not have the staffing, resources or capacity to meet the complex requirements of rural, remote rural and even their city dwellers without that role. So we are all encouraged to practice resilience: To fight for better. To keep the faith. To think of the women (as if that isn’t all every midwife does every day of his or her life).


To remember how good we are at what we do.

even when there are not enough of us.


What does this word “resilience” mean?




  • 1.

    the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
    “the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions”
  • 2.
    the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
    “the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions”
    the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
    “nylon is excellent in wearability, abrasion resistance and resilienc


    Flexibility, pliability, springiness, spring, give,durability, ability to last

    Plasticity, Elasticity, Suppleness

    strength, sturdiness, toughness

    Strength of character, hard line adaptability, buoyancy, flexibility

    Bounce back ability.

    Resilience: Bending or breaking.


    We are tired of bending. Too many of us are breaking. Please. If you value the first rate maternity system this country has. Write to your MP. Write to the Minister of Health. Ask your DHB board what they are doing to fix this. Share this post, so that others can see what is happening. And support midwives. Because resilience is a coping mechanism. Not a goal.

    Here is some advice on contacting an MP.

    Thanks for you time. Now let’s all get to work. After all…..


3 thoughts on “On why resilience shouldn’t be an end goal for midwives: Or anyone

  1. Sue says:

    #metoo – this is what all senior nurses have to take notice of if they aspire to be anything but a pair of hands. Nurses and Midwives are taken for granted, even though without them healthcare would be a disconnected heartless business. Time to fight back for what we and the public believe is critical – enough educated, empowered, enabled nurses and midwives. #worthit


  2. townsendjane says:

    I agree x
    Resilience is important, but not so as to bend to unrelenting stress and uncalled for duress within professional life.
    Something needs to change. But then it has needed to for years now hasn’t it.
    Nicely told Anna *pseudonym*


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