When you’re finally working in your chosen vocation you can have the longest day but still walk out with a smile on your face.
Bachelor of Midwifery
Emma Medeiros had always wanted to be a midwife but the cost and lack of direct entry into a midwifery course at that time in England put it firmly out of her reach. That all changed in 2008 when the former restauranteur moved to New Zealand with her husband and had her second child under the care of a New Zealand midwife.
“I had three different midwives when I was in labour with my first child in the UK. As each eight hour shift finished there’d be a new face. In New Zealand I had a midwife that was with me right through my entire pregnancy, so I thought ‘hold the phone’ I have to do this.”
After two years residency Emma qualified for a student loan, applied for the Otago Polytechnic Midwifery qualification and was accepted.
“I really liked the online aspects of the programme. As a mother with two young children to look after, not much family support and a husband with a career, it gave me the flexibility to plan my study around my family. I could be an active member of my class while watching my children play outside which I would not have been able to do in a classroom.”
Emma is now working as a midwife in Dunedin. “The programme absolutely prepared me for the job. It’s a really practical qualification, we were working clinically straight away and really encouraged to be hands on. Being a midwife has affected every single part of my life, it's changed the way I feel about being a mother and I feel like I’m a much fuller person.”
There’s such a sense of self-esteem and accomplishment. I have more confidence that I am providing evidence-based research for teaching purposes.
Master of Midwifery
Stefanie Kalmakoff has been a midwife for 18 years, and currently works as a Lactation Specialist at Otago District Health Board. Her role assists mothers and babies to establish breastfeeding. She is also charged with providing education to staff, midwifery students and medical students teaching them about this important function and relationship.
As a graduate of the Bachelor of Midwifery at Otago Polytechnic in the 1990’s and a local Otago resident, doing her master’s here just “seemed to make sense” but the real impetus to start the qualification didn’t occur until Stefanie watched her son playing computer games for hours. She recalls telling him that if he had enough time to play computer games then he could be doing something more productive like furthering his education. She then thought, “I better follow my own advice and set an example”.
It’s a decision that she hasn’t regretted. She describes the Master of Midwifery as a “really good programme” and perfect for midwives who have some “burning questions about midwifery practice that they want to research and find answers to”. Stefanie herself investigated the predictors of formula supplementation of breast-fed babies and found several significant links including high maternal Body Mass Index index, use of postpartum utero-tonics and a short duration of skin-to-skin contact after birth.
“I would encourage other midwives to pursue this qualification. You learn a lot along the way. Finishing it really gives you something to be proud of.”
It was a really good experience, I learned so much about myself and my family. It was a journey for all of us.
Bachelor of Midwifery
Fana Temese-To'omaga is the first Pasifika woman to graduate from the Wellington satellite of the Otago Polytechnic Bachelor of Midwifery. The programme is delivered by a blended model where students study online from their own home and attend weekly akonga sessions with local Kaiako in one of six satellites. They also engage in midwifery practice in their local satellite and attend compulsory week-long block courses in Kapiti or Dunedin.
Fana is a New Zealand-born Samoan from Wellington – married to Peter and mother to Ferila, Joshua, Sera, Shekinah and Hadassah. Fana grew up wanting to be a midwife but put it in the “too-hard” basket. Instead she worked as a librarian until she decided it was time for a change and re-trained as a Pacific Breast Feeding Educator/Advocate. As time went by, the midwife/lactation consultant who worked with Fana kept encouraging her to apply for the programme.
“I didn’t feel very confident at first as I hadn’t done anything academic for about 20 years and it was a big shock, but I was determined to keep going because I wanted my kids to know if I can do it, then they can do anything they want.”
Fana also felt the pressure of being the first Pasifika woman to study in the Wellington satellite via the new blended programme model.
“It was hard because I knew I stuck out like a sore thumb, and there was the expectation that I’d pave the way for others.”
For her month-long elective placement in August last year, Fana had the opportunity to go to Vanuatu and immerse herself in ‘island life’. The most valuable resource was the experience and skill of the local midwives, whom Fana found to be extremely intuitive, caring and open to new learning. ‘‘It was a two-way experience with lots of laughter.”
Fana is now a core midwife at the Wellington Regional Hospital and is part of the Midwifery First Year of Practice programme, which matches newly qualified midwives with professional mentors and is compulsory for all new graduates in New Zealand. “You are always learning in this profession - it doesn’t end because you have graduated, actually, it’s just the beginning.”