Acting charge midwife manager and after-hours Women's Service coordinator
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One of the things I like about the ‘mahi’, the job, is you can’t predict what will happen in a shift.
I’ve been a midwife for 13 years, and have been working for the Waikato DHB for six or seven years.
I always innately knew I wanted to do this; as a kid I made little hospitals and ambulances from Lego. One of my tipuna, my nanny, was a midwife.
I started in 1995 as a nurse aid in Delivery Suite, and graduated as a midwife in 1999.
Being Maori is a huge part of being a midwife for me. My line is Ngati Porou and Ngai Toa through my mother’s side.
I can fit between both worlds – the medical world and tikanga Maori. Concepts such as manaakitanga (the way you welcome and look after people), waiora (wellness), and hinengaro (mental thoughts) are important when looking after women.
" When patients identify as Maori, I say I am their kaitiaki..."
When patients identify as Maori, I say I am their kaitiaki (guardian). I come from a really sincere place. I have my gift I can give, my manaakitanga.
When a woman comes in, I say to the family, “I will look after her like my own sister”.
I think it’s about being really holistic, not just the woman, but her people, the mothers and mother-in-laws, and keeping them calm.
Sometimes your mahi is about being supportive to the family. I’m a talker and once you have a connection with a pregnant woman it helps. I say, “Where are you from? What school did you go to?”
I try to make connections quickly. I use a lot of eye contact. It’s about knowing when to whisper in a woman’s ear, “You are doing great”, and when to be quiet.
I have 10 children myself. My oldest child is 18 next month – at one stage I had six children under 6.
I like to try and keep childbirth as natural as possible for women. Even those who come in to be induced – their chances of needing further intervention such as pethidene and an epidural are four times higher – if we can keep things as low-key and normal as possible, it’s good.
I love when a woman is able to have a lovely, natural birth. Sometimes I get goose bumps, and I think, ‘that’s why I’m a midwife’.
I feel blessed to be there with this new life. Childbirth is extremely exciting but also terrifying for the mum and dad.
You can pick up on how the father is doing and if he wants to cut the umbilical cord and catch their baby. I work a lot with still born babies, or induced babies who will live just a short period of time.
Somebody needs to work with that woman in the raw moments, and that baby, that soul, needs respect. It’s my gift to help them.
I kiss every one of those babies, and hold them in my bare hands. I talk to them and treat those babies as I would my own, like queens and kings.
I think the midwives and registrars here work together well. It’s not that rah-rah that midwives don’t like doctors and doctors don’t like midwives.
We teach the junior doctors and if they are smart they will buddy up with the midwives.