PROBLEM: The COVID-19 pandemic response has required planning for the safe provision of care. In Australia, privately practising midwives are an important group to consider as they often struggle for acceptance by the health system. BACKGROUND: There are around 200 Endorsed Midwives eligible to practice privately in Australia (privately practising midwives) who provide provide the full continuum of midwifery care. AIM: To explore the experience of PPMs in relation to the response to planning for the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: An online survey was distributed through social media and personal networks to privately practising midwives in Australia in April 2020. RESULTS: One hundred and three privately practising midwives responded to the survey. The majority (82%) felt very, or well informed, though nearly half indicated they would value specifically tailored information especially from professional bodies. One third (35%) felt prepared regarding PPE but many lacked masks, gowns and gloves, hand sanitiser and disinfectant. Sixty four percent acquired PPE through social media community sharing sites, online orders, hardware stores or made masks. Sixty-eight percent of those with collaborative arrangements with local hospitals reported a lack of support and were unable to support women who needed transfer to hospital. The majority (93%) reported an increase in the number of enquiries relating to homebirth. CONCLUSION: Privately practising midwives were resourceful, sought out information and were prepared. Support from the hospital sector was not always present. Lessons need to be learned especially in terms of integration, support, education and being included as part of the broader health system.
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