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Another interview with a lovely new student midwife! Amba is passionate about working towards improving outcomes for Black, Asian & Minority ethnic women, and tells me what it’s like to start her midwifery programme during the pandemic.

1.Tell me about you, where you are from and what year you are in.

My name is Amba and I am a first-year midwifery student!  I am originally from North West London but I currently live in South West London to be close to London Southbank University, where I am studying. I am half Jamaican and half English and I feel I have a good connection of both my backgrounds but my favourite country and place to go on holiday is Jamaica!

2. Why did you decide you wanted to become a midwife?

It has always been a dream of mine to become a midwife however leaving school I did not have the grades needed for the course. I went into dentistry as a Dental Nurse for 8 years and I wanted a change, a career that would be more rewarding and challenging. I studied for my Access to Higher Education in Midwifery and absolutely fell in love with maternity care. That is how I knew I had made the right decision. I was also aware of the issues in maternity services when it came to women of colour, so I really wanted to help change the narrative and dismantle racism within maternity services.

3. How was the admissions process? Did you do any preparation before you applied? What was the process for writing a personal statement like?

The admission process was extremely nerve racking as I had never applied to university before. I applied to four London universities and Northumbria University in Newcastle. As this was my first time applying to Midwifery, I was extremely lucky to get interviews from 4/5 of the universities I applied for. I had my heart set on Northumbria as it was a chance to live away from London and have a completely new experience. However, when the first lockdown hit due to COVID19 I still had not heard back from Northumbria and thought it was best I stayed in London. Preparation I did before applying included researching how universities deliver their midwifery courses; e.g. did they have a clinical skills lab with real life simulators and what trusts they worked with for placement. I love writing, so I found writing my personal statement fairly easy. I used the UCAS guide on how to write a personal statement, I watched that video so many times! When it came to submitting my application I was worried that maybe my personal statement was not good enough!

4. What has been the highlight of your time so far?

My highlight so far has been learning about the anatomy and physiology of breastfeeding as well as how to guide mothers in achieving successful breastfeeding journeys. We did a lot of role play which I found really helpful and fun. Also creating my Instagram page ‘London’s Student Midwife’ which I use to share my student midwife journey and to bring awareness of racial inequalities within maternity care. I have heard so many strong women share their stories, I really hope we can all change the outcomes for Black, Asian and Mixed women in maternity care.

5. What have you not liked so much?

Due to COVID19 we have been unable to attend face to face lectures or take part in clinical skill seminars, everything has been on MS Teams and all theory based. Also not being able to meet my fellow student midwives has been unfortunate but I have formed WhatsApp groups with some lovely ladies I can now consider my friends.

6. Tell me 3 qualities that make an excellent midwife

1) Being Empathetic – I feel this is really important because women/birthing people face all sorts of issues during pregnancy whether it is personally or medically. It is important to be understanding and sensitive to everyone’s circumstances.

2) Being Non-Judgemental – as midwives we help women from a range of backgrounds who may have different beliefs to our own. It is important to be culturally aware, respecting any cultural practices that may take place in pregnancy and postnatally and withholding judgement if a woman makes a decision about her care, that maybe we would have done differently.

3) Being able to Advocate – it is important that we as midwives and healthcare professionals are able to advocate for our clients when they may not be able to do so themselves. This means really taking the time to get to know our clients, understanding their individual needs and ensuring they receive the best quality care.

7. What are your plans for when you qualify? Do you have any specific interests?

Qualifying is a long way off but I have given this some thought. I would like to specialise in Perinatal Mental Health and advocating for women of colour in maternity care. However I do hope by 2023 there would have been drastic change to the care received by women of colour in maternity services.

8. What is the workload like, really?

It is intense. More than I anticipated. It really is important to be organised, create study timetables, have folders and notebooks for specific modules. Having down time to relax and chill is vital to staying on top of the workload, if you burnout it can be detrimental to your studies.

9. Do you have any interesting placement stories that stand out?

I start my placement in January however I was lucky enough to get my second choice for my placement hospital. I am excited to meet all the staff I will be working with and putting all my skills into practice!

9. Give me a few random facts about yourself!

I am a flexitarian – I try to not eat too much meat in the week so I switch between a vegetarian and vegan diet with the occasional piece of chicken!

I love horror and thriller movies

I have watched and re-watched Grey’s Anatomy at least 3 times! I started again and I am currently on season 3. Yes I still cry at all the sad bits!!

10. What tips do you have for any prospective student midwives?

Do some light pre-reading around modules your prospective universities will deliver; this will give you a slight insight into what you will be learning.

Read up on the NICE guidelines for antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care

Research current issues in midwifery before your interviews

Follow Amba on Instagram @londonstudentmidwife

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