When someone offers you an opportunity you have to take it, right? So when Inderjeet Kaur, Consultant Midwife at the Royal London Hospital, offered us the chance to travel to India there was no way we could refuse!
So, today we find ourselves in the richly historic city of Hyderabad, India, to help train midwifery students and to support the development of a unique midwifery programme, pioneered by Dr. Evita Fernandez. Evita’s far-reaching vision is to have a formally recognised midwifery programme for Indian midwifery students.
Currently, there is no professional regulatory body for midwifery training in Hyderabad, and this is something that Evita would like to change. She is an eminent obstetrician and through connections with the UK, she has developed a great interest in and admiration for the autonomy and professional status of UK midwives. With forward thinking determination, Dr. Evita Fernandez strives to promote the midwifery model of care throughout her hospital.
No rest for the wicked! In the morning we met the first group of students who were extremely enthusiastic and ready to learn. After an authentic and tasty lunch, we were ready to meet the second group of students who were equally as welcoming and rhapsodic. After an enjoyable teaching session on clinical decision-making and the importance of communication, we left the hospital to explore the streets of Hyderabad.
The street was vibrant and filled with delectable aromas from the vendors selling a variety of food. The bustle of the city was made up of swirling saris and hooting scooters zig-zagging along dusty roads. We soon learnt that quite simply crossing the road in Hyderabad was a skill (hazard!) in itself – there are no zebra crossings and you literally have to bide your time and hope that you make it across to the other side. On the journey back to our apartment, we were grateful for observing a local landmark to guide our way back (directional sense is not our strong point!). Interestingly, this was not the usual sign post or road mark one might find in the UK. It was indeed the long lost foot of an unfortunate goat!
In the evening we were taken out for dinner by Evita to the local sailing club. Our conversations stretched from ‘Desert Island Discs’ to the history of midwifery practice in India and the Fernandez Hospital. You may notice that Evita’s surname is the name of the hospital, therein lies another story.
The hospital was originally built by her parents in 1948 to provide medical care, both private and supported, to the local population. From here a maternity unit grew from seed to maturity and is now a flourishing and highly respected establishment.
Between our teaching sessions we were given a tour of the maternity unit. It was inspiring to see how the midwives are supporting the ethos of normality working alongside the obstetric team. The students are keen to explore alternative positions for labour and birth and to support women with VBAC. This is a great achievement because the caesarean rate in India is incredibly high. It was encouraging to see that the women are now more receptive to midwifery-led care and speak extremely highly of the midwives.
It was an enjoyable day with the students but ended on a wet note when we once again ventured out and got caught in a monsoon!
Another interesting day with the student midwives. Our aim was to push them out of their comfort zone. We did this by asking them to choose a paper from MIDIRS Midwifery Digest, read it, critique it and debate it. Our objective was to highlight the importance of research and critical analysis.
It is worth noting that many of the students start learning English when studying for their nursing qualification; yet their understanding and fluency of the spoken and written word is something to be admired.
Their approach to this challenge was, once again, filled with enthusiasm. Although the debate was a little quiet to begin with, it soon picked up and became lively and entertaining.
Tonight we are heading to Lumbini Park in Hyderabad to watch a laser show which is a popular evening out for local people.
After a lovely evening out to the sound and light show with one of the second-year students, Prassana, we were back in the classroom for more teaching. Today we set a short exam paper in preparation for their forthcoming theory exam next week. The students were of course a little anxious about this but did not let this deter them from the exercise. This was particularly a challenge for one of the students who had been working night shifts since we arrived in India and still managed to attend all the sessions.
In the evening, Michelle and I went to explore the local area before it got dark, the traffic is incessant and crossing the road has become quite an art! Although the local people are not used to us, we feel quite safe as they are very friendly and keen to try out their limited English with us.
After a tasty curry supper, we decided on an early night as we were still feeling the effects of the different climate and time zone.
Read more about their journey…
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