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Midwives make a difference – celebrating International Day of the Midwife

Midwives Shyralee Parker and Nadia Hilton outside Waikato Hospital's Elizabeth Rothwell Building.

Nadia Hilton and Shyralee Parker are great examples of the many passionate and professional midwives working at Waikato DHB. They share their stories with us to profile the rewards and challenges of being a midwife – and to celebrate International Day of the Midwife which is marked on 5 May each year.

Nadia Hilton (right) is currently on her Midwifery First Year of Practice, following her graduation from Wintec with an award for the best overall Bachelor of Midwifery student. Nadia has also won a clinical excellence award – the Complex Care Award for “outstanding performance in clinical placement within the tertiary environment at Waikato Hospital.”

Shyralee Parker (left) has become an assistant clinical midwife manager within five years of graduating as a midwife. Like Nadia, she had experienced other career pathways before training as a midwife, but has now found her vocation in midwifery.

Shyralee Parker talks about being a midwife

What drew you into the midwifery profession? Did anyone inspire you or particularly support you in that decision?

Waikato DHB midwife Shyralee Parker

Waikato DHB midwife Shyralee Parker

It was the contrast between the births of my first and second children that really drew me to midwifery.  When my first daughter was born GPs still provided all maternity care.  When my son was born, independent midwives took over all care. The contrast between clinic and home visits antenatally, labour planning and care and the continuation of midwifery care to six weeks postnatally were extreme.  I was amazed at the difference the change in practice made to me as a mother.  It was then that I decided I really wanted to be a midwife.  It took several years, two more children, many different career pathways and most importantly, a very supportive husband before I finally went to midwifery training.

What are the most rewarding things you find about being a midwife?

Every day I leave work with a smile, I really love my job. There are so many aspects of caring for women and their families that are encompassed within midwifery.  It is the holistic nature of the job that really appeals.  In any one day I could be discussing nutrition e.g. how to increase iron in a woman’s diet, de-mystifying medical jargon with families, caring for women in labour, assisting in an emergency, suturing a tear,  testing baby bgls (blood glucose levels), assisting with breastfeeding, discussing safe sleeping…..you never know what you’re going to be doing at the beginning of a shift.

What are some of the challenges?

The childbearing year can be very stressful for some women and their families, especially when there are complications which require them to be at the hospital. People handle this stress in many different ways. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges is communicating with women and families who have high anxiety or in acute situations.

Which areas of midwifery practice are you most interested in?

When I first started undergrad training I was always going to be a community based LMC (lead maternity carer) midwife.  However as I continued I found that I had a real interest in secondary/tertiary maternity care.  Last year I completed a postgrad certificate in complex care and plan to continue on with postgraduate study next year. There is certainly a huge scope for midwifery-led research and this is an area I am contemplating. I have an interest in education with my background in adult teaching (as a childbirth educator) and there are opportunities for this with informal in-services and focus boards around the unit.

What is a change in midwifery that you feel has made a real difference, or could make a real difference, to the profession in the future?

I’m looking forward to seeing more midwifery specialist roles in our DHB, I think this will make a real difference for women and midwives. This has the potential to reduce wait times for women and free-up time for our obstetric colleagues. For midwives the opportunity to specialise is areas of interest such as diabetes, VBAC, PET are rare, I see this as a way to acknowledge, retain and utilise midwifery expertise.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking it up?

Midwifery is can be a very challenging profession. I think my best advice would be to ensure you maintain a study/work/life balance; that may be as simple as going for a long walk each day. Quality down time is really important for ‘recharging’. This helps us to maintain the level of energy required for study and practice.

Tell me about your journey from graduating to being an assistant charge midwife manager…

After graduating I worked at one of Hamilton’s primary birth centres for three months before commencing at Waikato DHB on the Midwifery First Year of Practice (MFYP) programme.  I started my rotation on Delivery Suite and Women’s Assessment Unit then went up to antenatal and finally postnatal wards.  At the end of MFYP I started working towards a Quality Leadership Progamme (QLP) confident domain.  I became involved in hand hygiene audits and infection prevention and control.  I completed all required accreditation to care for women in Delivery Suite’s High Dependency Unit and was supported well in consolidating my knowledge in complex care.  I have always been passionate to be the best midwife I can be… and grateful for the unit having many ways I could develop my skills, experience and junior management practice. My motivation in the journey from first year graduate to now ACMM in only 5 years was to ‘make a difference so it’s a better place for women to birth and for midwives to work.’

 

Nadia Hilton talks about being a midwife

What drew you into the midwifery profession?

Waikato DHB midwife Nadia Hilton

Waikato DHB midwife Nadia Hilton

A passion for women’s wellness – particularly around pregnancy and birthing. I also have a great interest in the importance that this period has in a woman’s life, and how a midwife has the potential to positively impact on this. I had a previous career in management, but I found it wasn’t enough about people. So when the time was right and we could afford to lose one income, I started my midwifery training.

Did anyone inspire you or particularly support you in that decision?

My husband and family are, and have always been, my greatest support. They have provided much encouragement, and made sacrifices when needed in order to help me attain my goals. They have also never doubted my ability to achieve what I had set out to do.  I likewise could not have achieved what I have without the support of the midwives I worked alongside throughout my training and the many women who gave me the honour of being able to learn from their journeys.

What are the most rewarding things you find about being a midwife?

Having the privilege of seeing the strength that each woman brings to her experience. Working with women in a midwifery context is truly humbling, and brings with it the unique opportunity of being able to positively impact on the well-being of each woman and her baby.

What are some of the challenges?

Balancing a demanding degree and career with the demands of a family is always a challenge. Perhaps more challenging though is the need to constantly reflect on my own practice in order to understand how my full identity as a person impacts on the care that I give, and strive for continued improvement in my practice.

Which areas of midwifery practice are you most interested in?

I love the challenges that arise in a complex care situation, but overall I am definitely most interested in research.  Research enables the ability to constantly improve practice, or to confirm what we do well as midwives. Being up to date with research and applying this knowledge to practice helps to improve outcomes for both mothers and babies.

What is a change in midwifery that you feel has made a real difference, or could make a real difference to the profession in the future?

The increasing number of midwives partaking in postgraduate study.  More midwives studying to a higher level allows for gains in knowledge and understanding within the New Zealand context.  Additionally, a lot of midwifery knowledge and “practice wisdom” that has not been previously formally recorded is able to be fully recognised and passed on more widely to new generations of midwives.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking it up?

Maintain your focus and passion – whatever aspect of midwifery that may be in. Read widely, draw on the knowledge of midwives around you, and always be willing to learn.

 

 

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