FOR Rob Jericho and his wife Beck, one of the best memories from birth of their second son Cooper six weeks ago was the involvement of a student midwife.
Mr Jericho said the student, named Ella, had been so helpful at Cooper's birth that he and Beck decided to let her "catch" their baby boy as he was born.
"She was just brilliant the whole way," Mr Jericho said, adding that Ella had even fetched battery-operated tea light candles from her personal locker to help make the hospital room at Nambour nicer for Beck.
He and Beck had been "adamant" that either their private midwife or Mr Jericho would be the first to hold Cooper, but changed their mind after meeting Ella and having her help during labour at the hospital.
"Ella had been helping the whole day and she was just brilliant, she was a gun," Mr Jericho said.
"With the professionalism she showed, we just said, 'yeah sure'."
Now, thanks to the introduction of a dedicated Bachelor of Midwifery at the University of the Sunshine Coast, parents like Mr and Mrs Jericho will be able to access active support from student midwives throughout a pregnancy.
Pregnant women who plan to give birth at the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital or as patients at any of the Coast's private hospitals can participate in the program, which has already involved more than 1000 women since 2013 when USC first offered a combined nursing science and midwifery degree.
Through its Connect program, USC pairs student midwives with local expectant mothers as they progress through pregnancy, birth and postnatal care.
Bachelor of Midwifery Program co-ordinator Dr Michelle Gray said students accompanied pregnant women to their antenatal appointments - whether at a public or private hospital, a medical clinic, or with local private practicing midwives.
"Having a student midwife follow a mother-to-be throughout her pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal period allows them to build a strong relationship and connection," Dr Gray said.
"Students work under the direct supervision of health professionals, and it's a vital part of their learning process for a student midwife."
First-year Nursing Science/Midwifery student and mother-of-five Angelia Goulter said she was looking forward to gaining practical experience working as a student midwife in the Connect program.
"I've birthed four children of my own - two in hospital, and two at home - and my experiences made me want to learn more about this area," she said.
"Personally, I know how important it is to feel supported and have continuity of care, so gaining hands-on experience by supporting a woman throughout her entire birth journey will be fantastic."
Women interested in taking part in the Connect Program must be less than 34 weeks pregnant when they first meet their midwifery student and can be birthing at any public or private hospital.
For more details email Connect Program co-ordinator Jessie Johnson-Cash at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.