My International Midwife Adventures ..
I first discovered the midwifery profession at the age of 15 through a documentary on TV and was instantly fascinated. My interest and passion only grew with time and in 2018 I started my first job as a Band 5 midwife. I love being a part of such a special time in people’s lives, the challenges, the female empowerment and the sheer joy when a family grows. It was my dream job and despite the difficulties, there is still nothing that sparks my passion like midwifery.
"I love being a part of such a special time in people's lives, the challenges, the female empowerment and the sheer joy when a family grows"
I have also always had a keen interest in travel, but I had never expected that my choice of career would open so many doors in this area. Even during my midwifery degree, I was able to travel to a hospital in Sri Lanka to observe and learn about their culture and practices.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, I greatly missed travelling and so when I came across a job opportunity to work as a midwife in New Zealand, my curiosity was piqued. Just a few weeks and a zoom interview later I was offered a job as a core midwife in a hospital in Auckland.
The job offer included a renumeration package, which helped with some of the costs of moving abroad and also enabled me to obtain a critical worker visa. This meant I was able to move to New Zealand whilst the border’s were still closed and for my partner to move and work over there with me.
New Zealand also has a public healthcare system, similar to the NHS, which means that maternity care is free for women and their families. The key difference is that midwives in the community are self-employed LMCs (Lead Maternity Carers). They manage their own caseloads and work on an on-call, continuity of care system, for as many or as few women as suits their work-life balance, and claim the fees for providing care from the government.
"I grew in confidence and increased my knowledge base and skill set .. I also got the opportunity to explore such a beautiful country"
Women can search online for a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) that they feel suits their preferences, location and dates of the pregnancy. An LMC is often a midwife but can also be a private obstetrician or GP, which may include an additional fee for the woman/family. The LMC provides antenatal appointments, and is on-call for women to contact for emergency advice and for the birth. They also provide any postnatal care in the community, after discharge from the hospital. As a UK trained midwife you can work as either an LMC or a core midwife, though it may be dependent on experience.
I worked as a core midwife in a hospital setting, which meant that I worked shifts covering the antenatal, postnatal and birthing wards. While the antenatal and postnatal ward roles were very similar to the UK, my role on the birthing/labour ward was more varied. Core midwives are responsible for inductions of labour and often provide care to especially high risk women under obstetric-led care. The core midwives also support the LMCs, offering break relief whilst they are providing care in labour, acting as a second midwife for birth, and, most importantly, responding to emergencies. This gave me more learning opportunities and experience compared to some of my previous roles and I grew my confidence, knowledge and skills in these aspects greatly.
Working as a midwife in another country gave me a whole new perspective on travel, as you get to see the culture first hand and understand some of the differences between societies, with both their benefits and challenges. I also got the opportunity to explore such a beautiful country, especially doing shift work, as I could go on long road trips, or visit other nearby islands without having to take time off work.
Obtaining midwifery registration in New Zealand had other benefits too, such as making me eligible to apply to live permanently in New Zealand. It also opened up a fast-track application route for Australian midwifery registration.
Personally, I am back in the UK for now, making the most of time with friends and family. I’ve brought with me a wealth of knowledge, a new perspective and an ability to adapt practice to so many different circumstances. I would encourage anyone with similar opportunities to do so, as we can all learn from each other and work towards providing the best possible care for all women and their families across the world.
Working internationally was an incredible experience, I had an amazing time and it also gave me the opportunity to take 3 months off, travelling around 6 different countries on my way home to the UK. It’s very possible that another international midwifery adventure is on the horizon! For now I’m on a different adventure, settling back into the NHS, putting my experiences into practice and after 3 months off, I can’t wait to get back to my favourite part of midwifery - the women and their families.
Written by Chloe - Midwife working and exploring New Zealand.