– by Elizabeth Duff, Iolanthe Midwifery Trust.
When I heard in October that the Scottish village of Glenelg was twinning with Mars, I thought that the next thing I’ll know will be a student midwife wanting to travel to Mars and observe how the baby Martians are born!
Applications from students, for funding from the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust, reflect an enthusiasm to go to a huge variety of locations and a keen desire both to learn and to help where they can.
Earlier in 2012, we gave financial assistance to seven student midwives who eventually took themselves to (in order of distance) New Zealand, Hawaii, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, the Netherlands and Troon in Scotland.
Their communications describing the trips demonstrate feelings of excitement, apprehension, awe and humility, joy and laughter – often among many other emotions.
Caroline Corcoran, studying at Staffordshire University, who travelled to Ghana, said that she had gained ‘a deep belief in the central importance of human rights and equity in this field’.
Alison Hulme, University of Manchester, worked with Maori women in New Zealand and in learning about their cultural taboos, felt she was stepping into an ‘ethical minefield’. For example, in the hospital, three separate lifts were used: one for movement of corpses, a second for the meal trolley, and the third for visitors. It was ‘unthinkable to use them inappropriately’.
Tessa Henderson, student at Edinburgh Napier University, spent time at a midwifery college in Ethiopia and helped the students there by posing, in local dress, as a pregnant woman and getting them to discuss the care they would give.
The charity also gives Midwife Awards: examples of two contrasting projects this year were the grant to Sheila Manning, midwife at the Balfour Hospital in Orkney, to learn the Mongan Method of hypnobirthing, with the aim of widening opportunities for women wishing to have a normal birth in Orkney; and to Dr Andrew Symon, Senior Lecturer, University of Dundee, to attend and present his work on the Mother-Generated Index at the Normal Labour & Birth Research conference in Hangzhou, China.
Next year, 2013, will see the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust yet again offering grants of up to £1000 to help students and midwives achieve their aims of travel, study and improvements in practice.
In addition, there will be a chance to win the last of the five Tricia Anderson awards. This award commemorates Tricia, who died in 2007. One of the families she cared for as an independent midwife wrote, after her funeral, ‘Tricia was a rare person – charming and witty but never flippant, spiritual and “alternative” but grounded in the real world … an accomplished singer, poet, artist, public speaker and campaigner’.
In 2012, the 4th Tricia Anderson award went to Elaine Uppal, lecturer at the University of Salford, for an ‘Art of Midwifery’ student project, emphasising the use of arts in the midwifery curriculum to highlight key themes, raise self-awareness and promote a philosophy of normal birth.
We’ve hoped to take some of Tricia’s work forward by helping people with similar interests so please don’t hesitate to apply for a project that is a bit ‘outside the box’: you don’t have to be or do all that Tricia did, but the words and example above will give you some idea.
The application period for the 2013 awards runs until January 25, 2013. Visit www.iolanthe.org for more details and application forms. Don’t leave it too late!
Contributor: Elizabeth Duff, Iolanthe Midwifery Trust
Photo credits: – main image: Caroline Corcoran, small image: Tessa Henderson