BHB Recognise International Day Of The Midwife

May 5, 2015

The Bermuda Hospitals Board today recognises International Day of the Midwife, 2015. BHB has 23 registered nurses with midwifery credentials and last year there were 559 births in the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital Maternity Department. The day is being celebrated around the world around the theme of “Midwives: for a better tomorrow”.

Janet Wheelan, Clinical Manager for Maternity and the Special Care Baby Unit [SCBU], comments, “The number of births in Bermuda has gone down in recent years, as the number of people in Bermuda has reduced. However, every birth is special and midwives play an important role in supporting and caring for mothers and their babies through pregnancy, labour and into the first few days of life.

“Our focus is on ensuring mothers and babies remain safe throughout. Bermuda is very fortunate to have an extremely low incidence of maternal and neonatal mortality due to the comprehensive antenatal care, the availability of highly qualified obstetricians, paediatricians and experienced midwives.”

BHB’s Maternity Department. Ms Christine Virgil, Clinical Director of Maternal and Child Services [third from left] and Ms Janet Wheelan, Clinical Manager of Maternity and the SCBU [far right] are pictured with some of the Maternity team.


BHB said, “Around the world, about 800 women die per day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, due to lack of availability to health care services, which accounts for 289,000 women per year. And for every woman who dies, another 30 women suffer long-lasting injury such as obstetric fistula or illness that can result in lifelong pain, disability and socio-economic exclusion.”

The Maternity Department at King Edward provide the following services:

  • Prenatal classes for parents-to-be
  • Antepartum care [pre-birth]
  • Intrapartum care [during childbirth]
  • Post-partum care [after birth]
  • A Special Care Baby Unit

Christine Virgil, Clinical Director of Maternal and Child Services, comments, “I want to recognise the King Edward Maternity staff, who support mothers and newborns safely and so caringly. High-quality midwifery care for women and newborns saves lives and contribute to healthy families and more productive communities.

“Midwives are educated, trained, licensed, regulated, integrated into the health system, and able to support women from pregnancy through to birth. In countries where women do not have access to professional midwives, the rates of preventable deaths rise. It is very sobering to read the international figures, and it inspires all of us at King Edward to work as hard as we can to ensure women in Bermuda can trust a premier service.”

During the year, the Maternity Department worked hard to ensure maternal and child safety in Bermuda. Ahead of Hurricane Gonzalo, approximately 20 pregnant women with high risk pregnancies were brought in to ensure that, even if the roads were impassable, BHB could ensure moms-to-be were fully supported. One mother, who was home on the morning of the storm, came in when she went into early labour, and safely gave birth during the hurricane.

Two new labour and delivery Operating Room suites were also opened in the Maternity Department earlier this year, which means all Maternal services are now within one area of KEMH. There is no need to be wheeled to a different floor. Maternity nurses have been specially trained to work in the new labour and delivery suites, ensuring that should a mother encounter difficulties during birth, an emergency caesarean can be accessed quickly.

Slideshow of the new Maternity Operating Rooms


Ms Wheelan concludes, “Mothers and babies thrive when there is a strong midwifery service. The risk of a woman dying as a result of pregnancy or childbirth complications during her lifetime is about 1 in 7 in Afghanistan and Sierra Leone, compared to about 1 in 29,8000 in Sweden. Nearly all newborn and maternal deaths [98% and 99% respectively] occur in developing countries where pregnant women and newborn babies lack access to health care services before, during and after birth.

“Most births are not life-threatening, but on rare occasions situations can occur in which a mother or baby’s life depends on immediate access to healthcare professionals. On this International Day of the Midwife, we want to recognise the importance of the services we have here in Bermuda and thank our midwives for all they do.”

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  1. “Much of what passes for childbirth education and preparation today actually increases women’s fears by giving them too much concrete information to hang their anxiety on, and too many names for all the bad things they already FEAR will happen. In the course of trying to calm the higher brain by giving it lots of data, we can end up defeating our purpose by feeding our fears.”
    - Suzanne Arms ( Immaculate Deception II