The important role that midwives play in pregnancy and childbirth


We spoke to Sr Hettie Grove, a midwife and lactation specialist at Life Springs Parkland Hospital in Gauteng. She’s an internationally certified childbirth educator, lactation consultant and lecturer at Witwatersrand University. Besides her private practice, she also runs birth-basics classes with new and expectant moms.

Why did you choose to become a midwife? 

As a child I wanted to be a community health nurse, but when I started my training, midwifery actually choose me. I did community health nursing and went back to midwifery. I did primary health care and went back to midwifery.

I did my degree in nursing administration and education and returned to midwifery.

I became an international board certified lactation consultant and again went back to midwifery. After all that I knew I was destined to stay and completed my advanced diploma in midwifery and neonatology.

What does your average work day look like?

It’s busy with being buddies with babies, lots of talk about sore breasts, dealing with babies who don’t want to latch on the breast, encouraging and talking with moms with the baby blues and advising moms who really need support with breastfeeding. 

What excites you the most about your job? 

Pretty much everything! My work is my passion however one of the real joys for me is when a new mom does an amazing job in the breast crawl and attach when breast feeding.

Seeing the mom’s elated face is priceless.

What role would you say you play in pregnancy?

Definitely an informing, caring, passionate, educative role to empower the mom with knowledge and be an advocate. 

As a midwife how do you care for a new born baby in the first 48 hours? 

Having mother and baby skin-to-skin interaction as soon after the birth as possible is important and part of our routine nursing care procedures. If necessary baby’s first bath can be delayed for 20-hours to leave the baby in the “breasteaurant”  to feed as often as necessary. 

Care to share your top tips for women who are first time moms

  • Trust your body.
  • Baby was fed for nine months through the umbilical card and placenta and most moms-to-be don’t worry that baby won’t grow. So trust your breasts to take this work over from placenta. They are made to provide your baby the right food.
  • Don’t let anyone steal your joy. You were born to have your baby. He/she has a destiny!
  • Trust your instinct and don’t listen to old wives tales.
  • Do your research. You can do it!
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