Hospital midwives learning alternative practices like hypnosis
PROFESSIONAL midwives are taking alternative medicine classes run by spiritual birth coaches called doulas, who are not registered with official health authorities.
An investigation by The Daily Telegraph can reveal professional development classes being promoted by the Australian College of Midwives (ACM) include one run by a doula who claims eating placenta decreases rates of post-natal depression.
Other classes ACM is encouraging its members to take include those on hypnosis, using scarfs in childbirth and a webinar on supplements run by the company selling them.
Leading obstetrician Dr Michael Gannon last night called for an investigation by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
A spokesman for Minister for Health Greg Hunt last night said: "The Minister has asked the Commonwealth's Chief Nurse to investigate this issue and provide advice."
In order to maintain their registrations, midwives must complete 20 hours of Continued Professional Development (CPD) each year.
CPD courses being advertised by the ACM include one on Natural Therapies for Labour and Birth presented by doula Renee Adair.
According to the College's website, the "fabulous" course covers teachings on aromatherapy oils, "acupressure" and rebozo, a technique using a scarf to help a woman give birth. Ms Adair's website also promotes a "placenta encapsulation service" and claims ingesting placenta "decreases baby blues" and helps with "post-partum bleeding".
Ms Adair told The Daily Telegraph placenta encapsulation had not "been discussed with or been a training for Midwives through ACM".
"I absolutely think the one day natural therapies masterclass we run is appropriate for all birth professionals, whether they are Midwives who choose to use up CPD hours with ACM or not," she said.
Also being promoted is a webinar run by supplements company NaturoBest on "birth preparation and natural therapies during labour" and "supplementing with the right nutrients according to each trimester".
NaturoBest director Nikki Warren, who is not required to be registered with AHPRA, said her course was "evidence-based" and said it was "standard practice for health professionals to receive CPD training from industry, including pharmaceutical companies and supplement companies".
Other courses run by doulas included ones on "yoga" and "hypnosis" during labour.
Dr Gannon said it was "hugely concerning to see an organisation which should be setting standards of modern and science-based practice" to be promoting such courses.
An ACM spokeswoman said it reviewed CPD courses but did not "explicitly endorse content".
"Courses are not intended to replace clinical training and approaches," she said.