Ruby, from Northern Ireland and training to be a student midwife in Edinburgh, travelled to Los Angeles to experience holistic midwifery care in a home setting
I was so surprised to learn that I had been awarded an Iolanthe Student award as it is UK wide and I knew the award and funding would be highly competitive amongst many midwifery students across the country. I applied for the award because I was passionate about travelling during my elective placement during my final year of midwifery school, to experience a difference in midwifery culture and learn new skills.
Without the help of the trust, on a student budget and part time job I would never have been able to complete my elective abroad. The funding enabled me to travel to a unique birthing practice located in Woodland Hills, California to experience natural, holistic midwifery care in a home setting.
The women I cared for during my time on placement had opted for an independent midwifery care plan over care dominated by obstetricians and gynaecologists.During my stay, I was able to spend almost every day shadowing my experienced mentor who was a licenced nurse midwife practitioner. Together we cared for multiple women at different stages of their pregnancies who all wished a natural homebirth with no medical intervention. I was able to join in with antenatal visits with my mentor in home settings where women felt most comfortable and relaxed. I identified a strong nutritional emphasis from each visit as each woman had a nutritionist input alongside midwifery care, this included eating plans, guidance and in depth nutritional bloodwork. This aspect of care was exceptional and something I hope to focus on during my own practice.
On St. Patrick's Day whilst on my elective placement I was fortunate enough to witness my first ever homebirth in Los Angeles.
Becky gave birth to Baby River 9lb 5oz with no assistance in a calm and familiar environment. This experience of homebirth gave me such a wonderful and empowering insight into natural midwifery. It was predominately hands off and the midwives trusted Becky’s strength and the birthing process. I was simply able to watch the beauty of childbirth.
My elective also included learning new skills and being educated about prenatal yoga, prenatal massage, placental encapsulation and benefits of herbalism during pregnancy and utilised for 3rd stage.
I was also able to witness differences in health systems, women with little or no medical insurance struggle and this plays in major role in their ability to make informed choices about their pregnancy and childbirth.
With this in mind I was given the opportunity to visit a birthing facility which works with these women to help them achieve natural birth without the fees of an independent midwife or at a discounted rate. The midwives who worked at this practice demonstrated empathy and kind nature as they truly cared for women’s choices and voice.
I would like to thank the trust for enabling me to travel during my elective, It was truly a fascinating learning experience.
Read more about Ruby's experience in this Edinburgh Napier University news story