Celebrating International Day of the Midwife – Meet Kate Jarrett

Friday 05 May 2023

On International Day of the Midwife, Mater celebrates the incredible commitment our hundreds of midwives bring to Mater each and every day.

This year’s theme from the International Confederation of Midwives is ‘Together again: from evidence to reality’, which honours the efforts of midwives and their associations to action critical evidence to create meaningful change for midwives and the women and families they care for. At Mater Research, we’re shining a spotlight on Kate Jarrett, who is a Mater Research Clinical Trials Midwife in the Genesis Research Team (Pregnancy and Neonatal Outcomes).

For Kate, being able to work with women and babies, creating positive experiences to keep them healthy and happy, is an honour. Kate’s interest in working in research-based roles is longstanding, having previously worked for Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) doing caseload midwifery.

“The BiOC framework came about through a research project between Mater Mothers’ Hospital, Mater Research and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health. It’s an amazing care model, providing a wraparound service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. It showed how much positive change can occur through research,” Kate said.

“I cared for women from booking in, throughout their pregnancy, when they came in for labour and birth, then for six weeks postnatal. That was really lovely.”

Kate’s move into clinical trials came about after a chance conversation with a doctor in the antenatal clinic, who told her about a trial Mater was running.

“I said it was fascinating, and that I was studying my Masters in Midwifery with a research specialisation. Several months later, the position for a research midwife was advertised and now here I am.”

Kate enjoys working with women and families and seeing how much they appreciate participating.

“As a health professional, in order to progress, you need research. To help improve progression for women and babies and improve outcomes, you need research.”

“The thought that not only are the clinical trials we run potentially life changing for the woman and baby in front of me, but that the choice she has made to participate will also change outcomes for women all over the world is just amazing!”

“I always say to women who agree to participate, ‘not only are you potentially improving the outcome for you and your baby, but also for women all over the world. Massive kudos and gratitude to you!’.”

Kate is currently involved in iSEARCH, an Australia wide clinical trial funded by the Australian Medical Research Future Fund. This Mater Research led trial aims to improve outcomes for women and babies by reducing the risk of fetal distress during labour using Sildenafil Citrate (SC), otherwise known as Viagra. If Sildenafil is shown to improve birth outcomes, it is likely to change clinical practice.

“Viagra is actually already used on tiny babies with pulmonary hypertension in the Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU), so we know it’s safe.”

“Our earlier Phase 2 trial showed very promising results. In women that received Sildenafil, rates of operative birth for fetal distress were 50% lower. By increasing placental blood flow during labour, Sildenafil reduced the risk of fetal distress and the need for emergency delivery by c-section, vacuum and forceps. The number of babies passing meconium in the womb was also lower as they were less likely to be distressed.”

“Women who were in the Sildenafil group also had shorter labours.”

Kate is passionate about research staff and clinical teams working together to improve outcomes.

“We are all in this together, and we are all wanting families to have the best possible outcomes and experiences. If we are able to decrease the need for intervention through our research, in the long run it’s only going to be beneficial for all.”

To mark International Day of the Midwife, Kate and three other  Mater midwives sat down with 7NEWS Presenter Kendall Gilding to discuss the changing face of midwifery.

Pictured: Mater Research Midwife Kate Jarrett