The COVID-19 pandemic has required rapid and radical changes to the way maternity care is provided in many nations across the world.
Midwives provide care to childbearing women across the continuum and are key members of the maternity workforce in Australia.
To explore and describe midwives' experiences of providing maternity care during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.
A two-phased cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted. Data were collected through an online survey and semi-structured interviews between May-June 2020.
Six hundred and twenty midwives responded to the online survey. Many reported a move to telehealth appointments. For labour care, 70% of midwives reported women had limited support; 77% indicated postnatal visiting was impacted. Five main themes were derived from the qualitative data including: coping with rapid and radical changes, challenges to woman-centred care, managing professional resilience, addressing personal and professional challenges, and looking ahead.
Restrictions applied to women's choices, impacted midwives' ability to provide woman-centred care, which resulted in stress and anxiety for midwives. Professional resilience was supported through collaborative relationships and working in continuity models. Midwives revealed 'silver linings' experienced in providing care during the pandemic.
Findings provide valuable evidence to understand the impact on midwives who have provided care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowledge will be useful for health leaders and policy makers as they consider ways to continue care during the pandemic and support the essential midwifery workforce. Recommendations are presented to improve preparedness for future pandemics.