Staff profiles

Grace Maha
Midwife and Sudden Unexplained Death In Infancy (SUDI) Prevention Coordinator

Tell us about your mahi at Taranaki DHB
SUDI prevention coordinator 0.5fte
I’m responsible for coordinating activities that will influence the preventable risks for SUDI.  I promote safe sleep practices across Taranaki DHB, coordinate the safe sleep device programme and distribute safe sleep resources around Taranaki.  I’m also responsible for establishing appropriate referral pathways and recording systems for safe sleep and providing data, reports and KPIs relating to the deliverables of the safe sleep programme.

Registered midwife 0.2fte
I’m employed as a core midwife at Taranaki Base Hospital working one shift per week in Maternity in either the antenatal/labour or postnatal wards.  A day in the life as a core midwife on the antenatal/labour ward could include supporting a woman during labour and making clinical decisions in partnership with her and her whānau to achieve the best outcome possible for that whānau. It could involve inducing labour for a woman who may be overdue or need to have their baby due to concerns for her or her pēpi.  It also involves providing support for LMCs (lead maternity carers).  When working on the postnatal ward, we provide support for women who have had their babies – from breastfeeding support to assisting with baby care and mother craft.

Tell us about the projects you’re working on
In my role as SUDI Prevention coordinator, I’m working on a couple of special little projects.  The first is a naming ceremony to celebrate being gifted a Māori name for TDHB’s safe sleep programme.  Given that Māori are 5-6 times more likely to be affected by SUDI, I feel an innate pull to deliver the programme from more of a Māori worldview.  The inequalities and inequities that exist for Māori within health are overwhelming and I feel that programmes and services could be delivered in a different way.  A way that will empower, build confidence, self-esteem and mana for our whānau.

Safe Sleep Day or Te Ra Mokopuna is held in December every year and this year will fall on Friday 4 December.  I’m organising a small event in the morning where whānau can bring their little ones along free of charge, and spend a couple of hours at Kindy Gym (YMCA) where they will be exposed to safe sleep messages and have the opportunity to win spot prizes kindly donated by organisations and small businesses.

I’m also in the early stages of scoping out a project whereby Māma and whānau will be invited into a space where weaving a wahakura (traditional safe sleep bed made from harakeke/flax) will be used as a mechanism to re-connect them with their ancestral heritage. It will introduce and reinforce positive health and child development messages that support maternal and infant wellbeing.  The hope is this project will be able to include on-site access to clinical services needed during pregnancy.

How long have you been a midwife?
I’ve been a midwife for 10 years now and have spent my entire career working at Taranaki DHB.  For the first half of my midwifery career, I was both a core midwife and an LMC.  Due to having another child in 2016, I no longer work as an LMC – although I do miss it.

What made you want be a midwife?
I attended the birth of my nephew as a support person and knew from that moment I wanted to be a midwife.  I’ve always had a passion for babies and thought, what a great way to be around them all the time.  Little did I realise at that point, that midwifery is more about working with women than babies.

Where did you train?
I trained through Massey University (distance learning).  I was a single mother to a primary aged child at the time so doing this training without having to move and up-root my whole life was what made it possible.  As a four year programme, condensed to fit into three years, it was intense but so worth it.

What inspires you to go to work each day?
My desire to truly help people and make a difference is what inspires me.  Of course this is true for all people but my calling is to help my own people.  I want to see and be a part of changing some of the inequities that exist for Māori. 

Career highlights?
To be honest, my most memorable experiences as a midwife have been providing care for my own friends and family.  While training and during the early days of my career, I felt it was frowned upon for a midwife to provide care for family and close friends.  I understood why this was the case however as a midwife, I want to provide the best care I can and believe in my capabilities and skills.  Why wouldn’t I want those closest to me to receive the best care they can.  I knew I could provide that.
I have been LMC for family members and close friends including two sisters and provided labour and birth care for my best friend.

What are the best things about being a midwife?
Knowing essentially, you’re responsible for two lives at a time.  Knowing the care that I give can make or break a woman’s belief in herself.  Pregnancy and birth is such a vulnerable time in a woman’s life and I can make a huge difference.

Is there someone you’ve worked with who’s been influential in your career?
As a student, we spent time on placement with LMCs.  One of the LMCs I worked with inspired me very much.  She had come from a life where she had to struggle for what she had.  She had spent time in her life on the benefit and she had a young family.  She was also Māori, which was important to me as you ‘move differently’ when you are with ‘your own’.  I was a single māma, had been on the benefit and I knew that I wanted to grow and improve and wake up every morning to go and do something I loved. 
Her ability to keep it real but have genuine care and respect was what really struck a chord with me.  Her clinical skills and ability to navigate the medical side of things inspired me and made me believe that I could be just as good.

Future career plans?
I’d like to help facilitate and make change for Māori within the health system.  I feel like you could make more meaningful systematic changes from higher up the chain but then I love being on the floor providing hands on care for my people so for now, I’m happy where I am.


Last updated: Thursday, October 1, 2020

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