Charles Darwin University
enews home

Mum brings ‘new addition’ to midwives class

By Patrick Nelson

Midwifery lecturer Lisa Charmer, student Leilah Wightman and son River Midwifery lecturer Lisa Charmer, student Leilah Wightman and son River

Midwifery teaching took on extra meaning for student and new mum Leilah Wightman at Alice Springs campus last month.

The first-year undergraduate was one of seven Bachelor of Midwifery students to take part in a week-long teaching block, but she was the only one with a baby in tow.

Son River had been born just six weeks earlier.

“My partner Alex brought him to class each day so I could feed him,” Leilah said.

“Having him nearby gave me strength. Once I was able to meet River’s needs, I could then focus on the studies.”

Midwifery lecturer Lisa Charmer said that having a real baby in the class had added to the learning experience.

“We just accepted that River needed to breastfeed and we supported Leilah with this; it’s part of what we do as midwives,” she said.

“It allowed students to observe the normal routines of a baby, and to observe what it is like to be a new parent.”

Leilah was one of several interstate students to attend the teaching block, the first held in Alice Springs since 2012.

“They came from Broome, Townsville, Wollongong, Gippsland and Darwin to join two Central Australian students,” she said.

Ms Charmer and Senior Lecturer Dr Virginia Skinner guided students through a mix of theoretical and clinical teaching with the use of simulation mannequins.

Representatives from the Midwifery Group Practice and the Alice Springs Hospital’s Maternity Unit addressed the students.

The Midwifery Group Practice provided information on woman-centred and continuity of care that is underpinned throughout the Bachelor of Midwifery. They incorporate care provided by a team of midwives, providing choices for women to birth at home with a known midwife.