We follow midwifery students.

By Lian Pansino and Christie-Grace Beck
Sep 2014

Lian Pansino – Midwifery Student 3rd Year

The nomadic student lifestyle has brought me to the Western Bay of Plenty – and although it lacks the warm weather of the tropics, it still manages to boast unbelievable fruit! The last few months have been a stark contrast to my previous placement in Rarotonga. In the Bay I’ve been living and breathing midwifery!

My base has been in Katikati where I lived with Trudy Hart and family. Trudy is what I would describe as a wise woman; one of many wise women I’ve come to know in these parts. She has a wide breadth of knowledge which has helped inform me on topics like breastfeeding, vaccinations, and knitting. Along with her sharing of knowledge Trudy has kept me fed and in clean clothes, something that may have been unachievable if I were left to fend for myself on this busy placement. Busy it was, in 14 weeks I attended 30 births with Katikati Midwives! This involved births at home, the primary unit in Waihi, and Tauranga hospital. I had the pleasure of working with wonderful women and families from a variety of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds who had one thing in common, they had gorgeous physiological births and became outstanding breastfeeders! Unlike in Rarotonga, this placement has involved babies enjoying immediate skin to skin with their mothers, delayed cord clamping, and choices for mothers throughout pregnancy, birth, and post-partum.

The majority of these women were with the midwife Veronika Muller, another wise woman who happened to be my preceptor! During my time with Veronika, I was exposed to her knowledge of naturopathy, acupuncture, and 30+ year’s midwifery experience. Besides an overwhelming number of normal physiological births (yay!) this placement was marvellous because she really allowed me to be ‘the midwife.’ By providing a space where I could be myself has meant that I feel confident and prepared for my new graduate year.  Also, my understanding of physiological birth has grown tremendously, making me feel assured that next year I will be able to support women through pregnancy and onto normal births. The number of births I attended could not have been achieved without the generosity of women working with midwives Judy Bellamy and Glenys Perry. I am so grateful for the experience I gained and for these midwives’ teachings. I’m going on now to my final placement with yet another wise woman, Anne Sharplin. Her knowledge and experience with birth at home is going to be a valuable addition to my learning. I look forward to the new experiences that await me in Tauranga and the beautiful families and babies I’m about to meet!

Christie Grace-Beck – Midwifery Student 2nd Year

Now two-thirds of the way through the year and the idea of second year ending makes me very excited! My list of assessments and exams is slowly shrinking and the sun shining outside is tricking me that its almost summer. The last few months have been incredibly busy for my husband and I as we have been competing in a cooking show for TV. I know I’m mad, somehow juggling 2nd year midwifery and suddenly deciding to be a TV personality! But I’ve decided that if my classmates can juggle children and this degree then its pure lazy for me not to have my hands full.

During one of our photoshoots the special effects man strikes up conversation…

“I hear you’re studying to be a midwife?”

“Yes, I am, I love it!” I respond, meanwhile trying to maintain my composure as the cameras pan around.

He then continues on to inform me that he delivered both his children at home, all by himself. He is beaming with pride at this.

It is another moment in my life where people share their experiences, wanting nothing but to share their joy and give appreciation for midwives. How wonderful to be in a profession where there is so much love and support, even from tough men.

Aside from that, the course is getting increasingly harder, and it is necessary because we have the lives of women and their babies in our hands. As much as I love the aspects of midwifery that allow us to sit back and observe and leave women to birth in peace, there are scenarios where we need to have all the knowledge necessary to cope with what falls outside of the norm. This is the hard part and what I keep my head buried in books for.

Midwifery is a roller coaster and I’m not particularly fond of roller coasters, but the ups of this course are thrilling and with the end in sight I know that the Polytech will do everything to ensure we graduate as a class of very competent midwives. Bring on exams and then 3rd year!