Midwife honoured for COVID antenatal classes

Oct 01, 2020

A Gold Coast midwife who helped establish virtual antenatal classes for pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic has been honoured with this year’s Early Career Award by the Queensland Nurses and Midwifery Union.

John Flynn Private Hospital’s Christine Sutton took out the top honour from an impressive field of candidates, with the judges praising her passion for her work each and every day. 

“Christine was able to facilitate a connection with mothers during a very trying time, adapting to new ways of working and displaying outstanding leadership skills,” the judges commented. 

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person antenatal classes at John Flynn Private Hospital were forced to stop due to government restrictions - which meant women weren’t able to come to the facility for any birth preparation. 

Knowing the importance of supporting women and families not only during the stresses of pregnancy, but also during a global pandemic, Christine was one of the founding midwives who planned, initiated and taught antenatal education classes online, via Zoom. 

This consisted of interactive virtual classes with midwives so patients could ask the questions they wanted to, and take a tour of John Flynn’s birth suites - all from the comfort of their own lounge room.  

“We adapted and we got some laptops on wheels and we were able to virtually walk them through our facility so they could still experience it all,” Ms Sutton said. 

“I feel so lucky to have won this award and it will just open so many doors to further education for me - which means I can support new mums even more.” 

Ms Sutton decided to become a midwife after the birth of her first son, as she had found the post-natal period very daunting and wanted to help other women during that difficult time. 

“My interest came from the fact that I felt that we could do more to support women and their families during that new aspect of their life of becoming a parent,” Ms Sutton said. 

“I felt like I would have liked more help in that post-natal period and I realised I would love to help other women too.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented personal challenges for Ms Sutton too, as she lives in northern New South Wales and could only travel into Queensland for her shifts at John Flynn Private Hospital. 

Christine was first nominated for the QNMU Early Career Award by her Nurse Unit Manager Gaylene Hardwick, who praised her skills as a future leader in health care.  

“Christine encompasses all the qualities that you look for in a student and the next generation of midwives - dedication, enthusiasm, compassion, patient-focused care and a willingness to learn,” Ms Hardwick said. 

During her career as a midwife, Christine has recognised the vital importance of antenatal education, birth preparation and support for women and families.