Benash Nazmeen is an amazing midwife who I have had the pleasure of coming to know through a joint project we are currently contributing to. She is passionate about highlighting health inequalities and facilitating transformation in maternity services.
1.Tell about you, where you are from and how long you have been a midwife
My name is Benash Nazmeen (pronounced Been-ish Nazmeen)
I was born in Kashmir, and while I have lived and worked if different cities in the North of the UK I am now settled in Manchester after a brief stint in the UAE. I started my midwifery Journey in 2008.
2. Why did you decide you wanted to become a midwife?
I didn’t know what a midwife was until I read 5 prospectuses back to front, searching for courses that spoke to me for UCAS application.
The 2 that resonated with me were Teaching and Midwifery, I flipped a coin and it landed on Midwifery, the rest as they would say is history.
I began my Midwifery journey and when I told my mum afterwards, she went on to inform me that my grandma was the village midwife in Kashmir. That’s when I realised there was a family history in this profession of being birth keepers.
3. How did you find the training?
I found the training difficult. After reflection, there were aspects of discrimination and bias from mentors, lecturers, patients and even fellow student midwives.
I did enjoy the practical learning as I learn more from practical work than theoretical and this really worked in my favour.
4. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Landing a job where I get to work on a personal passion, working towards addressing health inequalities within maternity services, especially when it comes down to race.
5. What have you not liked so much?
The feeling of inadequacy/imposter syndrome that comes with not fitting due to my race, religion, customs. Knowing that I did not belong or feel represented in a workforce that is majority white British.
6. Tell me what enables you to provide excellent care to women & birthing people.
My race, because it removes a barrier when I care for people whom have also felt like they have been treated “differently” for whatever reason. It removes a barrier of judgement somehow
My tenacity in caring and advocating for those in my care, they are my priority.
My love to mentor and train students, they are the future and they need to be invested in.
7. There has been a lot of awareness raised in recent months and years about the plight of black and brown women having babies. What do you think we can do as midwives to help reduce the “5 x more” and “ 2 x more” stats?
This is what I live, eat and breathe on a daily basis, I am focusing on this in all aspects of my job and other organisations that I am a director for, chair or am a board member on.
From developing a course for the workforce on cultural competency and safety, to developing and curating safe/brave spaces for support and advocacy for these groups to working with LMEs to decolonise the curriculum I trying to work towards all aspects because it is a multi faceted issue and needs multiple approaches for most impact. Sadly we can’t afford to delay this work as the stats cannot be allowed to continue or increase.
8. What is a typical day like at work for you?
Midwifery has no such thing as a typical day, even now at the moment while I’m working on strategy and operational development, my day evolves depending on what arises during it. I can have plans for reports, data collections and meetings but I may be need in ANC (antenatal clinic) to support staff because someone has disclosed information and they need 2-2-1 support.
9. Do you have any interesting birth stories that stand out?
All birth stories stand out to me, because they are all individual. The stories of that the parents bring with them, their journey to parenthood, their hope wishes and desires, everyone is individual and important and valuable. Even those where baby loss is part of their journey, especially those as they tend to remain fresh in your mind.
9. Give me a few random facts about yourself!
I am a close adrenaline junkie, I aim to throw myself out or a plane and bungee jump as they are 2 things that remain on my bucket list
I am single, which is strange for a 31 year old Asian, Muslim female.
I’m double jointed and can make my thumb bend backwards to touch my forearm.
10. What tips do you have for any prospective student midwives?
Know why you want to be a midwife, and revisit this focus often, especially when it feels too much and too hard.
Find your tribe, they have your back, they are your support network and they will also push you to learn, grow and better yourself.
It can feel lonely, especially if you feel excluded or different for what ever reason. Know this you are not alone, someone like you has walked this path before you. Seek them out, their presence will motivate you.
Twitter @BenashNaz @ASAMidwives