Unbeknown to many Kiwi mums-to-be, globally New Zealand is regarded as having one of the best maternity care systems on the planet, alongside Holland. We are the only country in the world that operates the government funded continuity-of-care system where every woman is entitled to have their own LMC (lead maternity carer) who looks after them antenataly (with say an average of 14 half-hour appointments); attends their labour-birth (routinely in the middle of the night); and provides seven or more postnatal visits in the first five weeks or so (including at least five home visits).

On an international scale, this is quite literally, a phenomenal level of maternity care. Even just across the ditch in our neighbouring Aussie, postnataly women may get one phone call a few days after birth, then a lucky few get one midwife home visit. Instead there are drop-in clinics where women can go to get their baby weighed. In American hospitals where there is no nitrous gas pain-relief option, and usually compulsory continual fetal monitoring, women are expected to receive an epidural and hormone drips (with the subsequent substantially worse birth statistics). Then they are routinely discharged home within twelve hours of birth and given their free sample of infant formula, to then receive no further follow-up care whatsoever.

And that’s just how it is… they just don’t expect anything else. Yet somehow here in God’s Own we have developed this extraordinarily fantastic maternity care system, and at the same time have created a culture of complaint … because the obstetrician was grumpy, or the midwife was busy, or the toast was friggin cold.

Yes, the Obstetrician was a bit grumpy. It had been a tough shift. Just an hour ago he’d heroically saved a woman’s womb from a hideous ectopic pregnancy, after already being up all night without any break because Birthing Suite was manic. He’s exhausted. He’s dedicated. He’s highly skilled, so appreciate it.

Yes, the hospital Midwife was busy. She’s always busy, but the ward has been insanely busy for the last 11 hours, and this is her fourth night in a row. She wasn’t even rostered to work, but someone called in sick so she agreed to miss out attending her daughter’s dance recital, simply because she’s here to help you, and all the other demanding women on her ward that night. Plus she’s still getting over the emotionally draining and incredibly sad 23-weeker fetal abnormality late-termination she needed to attend earlier in her shift. It always takes her a couple of days to shake off those memories.

And as for our LMCs. Good grief, they’re amazing women (and men). On-call 24-hours a day! Every time they lay down to sleep, they don’t know if they’ll get to sleep through that the night, or instead will be woken out of a deep sleep in the middle of the night, need to throw on clothes and gulp down a coffee while dashing to a client’s labour … while also knowing they have no idea when they’ll be back home, no idea when they’ll next eat, and no idea when they’ll next even sleep, let alone when they’ll next talk to their own children. Honestly who would want to do that job?!

Then on top of that they get vomited on, wee’d on, have to wipe women’s poo and sew up perineums – all in the middle of the night when the rest of us are peacefully sleeping. But even then women have the entitled audacity to complain we weren’t “satisfied” with her sensitivity, or they way she responded to our questions, or how she wasn’t at all times super easy to talk to – yet we’d drive her slightly nuts by ringing her on a Friday night to ask if Chinese takeaways is safe to eat, and texting her at 8am on a Sunday morning to double-check our antenatal clinic appointment time the following Wednesday (which is written in our Pregnancy Diary, but we’ve temporarily misplaced it).

So hey, one mum to another mum-to-be, could we all stop whinging and whining about what is wrong with the care we’re receiving – especially from our LMCs – and instead thankfully be grateful by celebrating graciously what incredible midwives – and obstetricians – we have FREE access to. With grace, let us all love, love, love our maternity care system.

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This is literally propaganda,

one week old mum

I had an amazing midwife couldn’t have been happier with the way I was treated to be honest New Zealanders need to wake up and smell the roses we have it good. I once read an article on women having emotional issues after birth because their birth didn’t go to “their plan”, shouldn’t they be happy that their baby survived and was able to breath and come out with no issues? because some people have no choose what they are thrown into and yet deal with it while other bitch and moan about how the system failed them. Get over… Read more »


I think LMC midwives are partly to blame for the situation we find ourselves in. We have made ourselves too available to women. I am about to quit LMC midwifery after 14 years. I’ll not be going back to the 24/7 on-call and non-urgent texts in the middle of the night. For the last 6 months or so I have had my texts on ‘silent’. Clients know that if their message is urgent they should call, as their text may not be seen immediately. So these are some the reasons I am quitting: No time off – apart from the… Read more »

Gwen Hooper

This couldn’t have been written in a more condescending manner. Unfortunately for thousands of women in NZ, the birth of their babies doesn’t go as it should have thanks to their LMC and the NZ maternity system. And these cases, as long as the baby doesn’t die during birth, are counted as “successful” live births. What a disappointing, embarrassing thing for NZ to hide behind and claim one of the “best” maternity systems in the world.

Mum of three

I never manage to come to terms with how some Kiwi women can be so ungrateful for our extraordinary maternity healthcare, with maternal mortality rates of 0.00016 percent. I mean good grief. In some counties right now 1000 women DIE for every 100,000 births. Those women would be eternally grateful for our system warts and all. Nothing is perfect. But I’m embarassed as a Kiwi mother to hear such scathing criticism towards our over-worked underpaid dedicated amazing midwives. As I teach my kids: Only hurting people hurt people.

Gwen Hooper

I’m sadly only speaking the truth, and yes, I was completely and utterly devastated by the maternity system here. While my midwives were wonderful, and I never, ever, would imagine treating them horribly (and certainly didn’t), my daughter’s birth resulted in her suffering a completely preventable, massive brain injury so that she will most likely need round the clock birth for the rest of her life. I am to be forever grateful for this? If a hospital is understaffed, mistakes and tragedies happen, as was the case with my daughter’s birth. I will not be “grateful” for a system that… Read more »


I’m disgusted by your post Gwent Hooper. No wonder a midwife felt they had to write that article. Obviously you’re one of the whining moaning people they are taking about. My first birth was incredibly traumatic or as you said “doesn’t go as it should have” but without the fantastic care of my LMC and the women’s hospital my baby and I would have both died and I am forever grateful. Sure there were things post delivery that could have gone smoother but I sure has hell wouldn’t complain about them.

Gwen Hooper

i’m sadly only speaking the truth. My daughter’s birth resulted in her suffering a completely preventable, massive brain injury due to a p so that she will most likely need round the clock birth for the rest of her life. I am to be forever grateful for this?

Gwen Hooper

And to be frankly honest with you, I could care less if you’re disgusted by my comment. The article was written very condescendingly. We pay taxes so midwives get paid. The majority of women don’t treat their midwives like shit. NZ’s maternity success rates are alarmingly skewed, and people need to wake up. End of story.

Gwen Hooper

Also, it’s the system that needs to change. Midwives blaming their patients for being ungrateful isn’t the solution.

Stop the midwife bashing

Thousands? Where do you get the figure “thousands” from?

Gwen Hooper

I didn’t say thousands of women each year. I said thousands full stop. Funny how I’m the only one here using my real name.

Happy Mum

Where do you get your figure *thousands* of families from?

Happy Mum

How do you know for *thousands* of families in NZ there births do not go as they should? Cannot eve begin to imagine the pain of you and your family, but these are very rare events and cannot just be extrapolated across to “thousands of New Zealand families”….


Not everyone wants continual monitoring , and post natal checks. The LMC in NZ assumes everyone is stupid!


Postnatal checks ensure that women are bonding with their baby, the baby is growing and developing, and any issues can be identified. I’m sure your midwife would welcome doing less postnatal checks if you let her know. Continuity of care and regular checks is far better than most women in many countries get.

Frustrated first time mum

Well. I’m afraid to say that I don’t particularly love the level of care I have received. I live in the wairarapa where there have been no midwives available to me as LMC because we only have 3 independent midwives in the region and they were fully booked when I found out that I was pregnant at 7 weeks. I was able to be registered with the 1 GP-OB who unfortunately died two months ago. I have now been passed to the DHB team whom I have seen once, and they are still deciding whether or not they can take… Read more »

Kathy Fray

Yes, like the West Coast of the South Island, the Wairarapa does have a crisis of lack of local LMC Midwives. Thus it’s not that you’re receiving poor midwifery care – it is more that you’re receiving no LMC care. But do know it’s not that no-one in the system cares about your baby or yourself (that is indeed very far from the reality). I saw yet another notification today with the Wairarapa and West Coast DHBs both trying to attract more LMC midwives to their regions because they’re so acutely aware of their current midwifery shortages. They’re offering short… Read more »

North Island Midwife

Maybe there aren’t many midwives because they are fed up of moaning women. Despite all that has been said above which I totally agree with , the women still manage to whinge about the tiniest little thing or don’t think twice about disturbing the midwife’s family time on a sunday morning or homework time with kids on a weds evening with a problem they’ve had all day between the hours of 9 and 5 but wait until 10pm to ring up about it. They wouldn’t do it to a GP ! Women in New Zealand need to realise what they… Read more »

North Auckland Midwife

You hit the nail on the head.


So sad for you, that your GP died. Selfish!

Kathy Fray

Brilliant, inspired, real.

Midwife Abroad

Fantastic article to be printed off and put up at work I think! As a UK midwife working in NZ it’s so apparent to me that families here don’t know how incredibly fortunate they are. I am a Community Midwife by tradition (LMC) but now work shifts in hospital because I would never be able to dedicate 100% of my life to midwifery as the NZ LMCs here do, often to the detriment of their own health, families and marriages. Well said Anonymous Midwife!

Rochelle Gribble

I totally agree, Midwife Abroad- I don’t know how my gorgeous LMC midwife does it and I sure know that I couldn’t!! 


Thalia Kehoe Rowden


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