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Providing disability-informed maternity care: Australian Nurses and Midwives Conference

Providing disability-informed maternity care: Australian Nurses and Midwives Conference

Cherise Smith. Photo: The Royal Women's Hospital

Cherise Smith, a coordinator/midwife at the Women with Individual Needs (WIN) Clinic at Royal Women’s Hospital, is one of the speakers at the upcoming Australian Nurses and Midwives Conference. She will be presenting on the topic of providing disability-informed maternity care.

A registered nurse/midwife, Cherise has worked at the Women’s for over 30 years. She was integral to the establishment, in 2002, of the WIN Clinic – the only disability-informed maternity care clinic promoting optimal perinatal, antenatal and postnatal care in Australia, and still the only specialist pregnancy clinic for people with disability in Australia.

Tell us a little bit about your background:

I have extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of the needs of women with disabilities (cognitive, physical and sensory, including acquired brain injuries and neurodiversity) and perinatal outcomes for this cohort of women. I am an advocate and am frequently called upon to provide advice and expertise.

I am an active member of Women with Disabilities Professional Advisory Group, Experts in Our Health Project, a guest lecturer at La Trobe University (Psychosocial Complexities – Disability and Maternity Care) and a Positive Action Towards Career Engagement (PACE) Mentor.

In the past, I have been a member of the Clinical Working Group Funds in Court Human Rights Advisory Committee (HRAC). Most recently, I was invited to speak to representatives of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability and subsequently was asked to provide a written submission.

What would be the one thing you’d want attendees to take away from your presentation?

Awareness of impairments, conditions and disabilities women may present with, the consideration in providing maternity care and supporting parents on discharge from hospital to confidently care for their newborn as independently as possible.