Behind the Scenes – Honest Talks with Two Sensitive Midwives

In this episode Dr Margreet Barnardt is having a conversation with two Sensitive Midwives, Melissa Hudek and Susan Bolke, about their experiences working in different sectors of midwifery in South Africa.

Melissa has always been passionate about supporting mothers throughout pregnancy. Her journey began with a Bachelor of Midwifery (BCur) from Nelson Mandela Bay University. Melissa started her career in the private sector. Recognizing the importance of nurturing future midwives, she continued working while pursuing a qualification to educate the next generation. Driven by a desire to provide even more specialized care, Melissa earned a Master’s degree in Advanced Midwifery and NICU. However, after 17 years in the private sector, she felt a disconnect from her core values of supporting natural, empowering births.

Following a period of reflection, Melissa took a leap of faith and established Belly Blessings, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Belly Blessings focuses on creating safe, calm, and relaxing home birth experiences for mothers. Today, Melissa practices midwifery where her heart finds true joy – supporting mothers in achieving a peaceful and empowering birth experience.

Susan Bolke is a Registered Midwife and Certified Sensitive Midwife. She has a long career in the private hospital setting, where she was a Breastfeeding ambassador and strong believer in giving families the best birthing experience she can. While working in the private hospital setting she became involved in the Community of Practice for Maternity, as she believes that Midwives should not only influence but lead birthing practices in the private hospital setting. Midwifery has always been her passion, she has used her voice on many platforms to educate and empower not only families but also the Midwifery community as a whole. 

In this insightful conversation you will learn about the rewarding parts as well as the challenges of working as a midwife as well as how to make an informed decision about choosing your birth provider. 

Here are key takeaways:

  • There are two main sectors of midwifery in South Africa: private and government sector. Some midwives work as independent midwives in private practice.
  • Independent midwives provide care to low-risk mothers in their homes or birth centers.
  • Home birth is not for everyone, but it can be a positive experience for mothers who want a more natural birth experience.

Here are some of the challenges faced by independent midwives in South Africa:

  • A lack of respect from some doctors
  • Difficulty transferring patients to hospitals when necessary
  • A high cesarean section rate in South Africa

Here are some tips for pregnant women in South Africa:

  • Educate yourself about your birth options
  • Choose a care provider that is a good fit for you
  • Ask questions and don’t be afraid to challenge your care provider
  • Follow your heart and make the decisions that are right for you