Amongst friends and family who discussed their plans to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses, accountants, councilors, and so forth, I wanted to become a midwife. The word ‘midwife’ raised many eyebrows and a world of misconceived notions, but a midwife isn’t quite what you might think him/her to be.
The interest started when as a child, my parents bought my sister and I an encyclopedia set. The single thing that jumped out at me and captivated my attention every time I read those books, was how the human body was able to grow another human being. It was able to give this little being its form, to nurture this little being, and to alter its entire body to accommodate this little person within itself. It was able to give life. Since a young age, my parents had instilled within me that knowledge gained should be used in more ways than just benefitting oneself. The fascination about Man’s ability to create and the longing to help women and their families through this very special journey of their lifetime was what made me want to become a midwife.
‘Midwife’ simply means to be “with woman” – a derivative from Old English.
Midwives are healthcare professionals who provide maternity care to women throughout pregnancy and childbirth. Contrary to popular belief, pregnancy and childbirth are natural processes in a woman’s life which again, contrary to popular belief, can be primarily cared for by midwives. Many countries around the world have adopted this approach for hundreds of years, and only engage the assistance of medical help if and when necessary.
In other words, antenatal clinics and appointments, labour and birthing, postnatal wards, special care baby units and women’s outpatient clinics are largely run by midwives, and utilising the help of doctors if necessary. As the very opposite has formed the crux of maternity care in Singapore, which wasn’t something I was keen on, I sought out my options overseas which saw midwives to be the primary care givers in maternity care, thus ending up in Australia.
For a girl who grew up in a country practicing one thing and moving to a country practicing an entirely different notion, I’ve had nothing but the best few years of my life. Besides lessons, one of the best things that I enjoy about this degree is being on placement. Part of the curriculum requires us to undertake shifts in hospitals and work alongside midwives, as well as take on our own caseload of pregnant women to follow through with till 6 weeks postpartum, and be on call for the birth. Each experience has taught me not only the skills that I need to be a midwife, but many things that textbooks can never teach.
It is here that I learnt that provision of health care is more than just being within pristine buildings and using fancy gadgets. It is here that I learnt that compassion and respect will allow you to communicate with patients in a way which no textbook can ever teach you. It is here that I learnt that doing your degree goes beyond fulfilling curricular requirements or completing semesters. It is here that I learnt that passion was what drove me across the seas. Not because I wanted to get another piece of paper to add to my paper qualifications, not because this was just another job that I had to do because I had nothing else to do with my life. It was because I loved it with all my heart. It was here that I learnt that anything that is done wholeheartedly and with the intention to help and serve, will be received and seen for what it truly is.
A wise man once asked me what was it that I brought to this Earth with my existence, and till this very day, it rings within me.
There are thousands of communities in underprivileged societies who die every day due to the lack of knowledge, care, or facilities accessible to them to manage health issues – a significant percentage of them being women and newborns following pregnancy and childbirth. Knowledge and skills learnt should always be shared, and thus it is my goal to be a part of expeditions which aim to improve healthcare facilities for women and babies, while educating them on important knowledge needed to manage health issues with what little resources that are available to them. This would be something that I would undertake after I’ve cultivated the experience and confidence needed with years of practice to undertake such an important project.
An education isn’t just a piece of paper which you spend 20 something years of your life to obtain, only to survive the next 70 years of your life holding on to it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with studying to make ends meet, because let’s face it, we all need to eat. As I sit here and ramble on about life and its meaning and whatnot, which may or may not have something to do with midwifery, my point is simple. There’s got to be something in your lifetime that you feel strongly about, that tests your faith, that pushes your perceived limits, that propels you forward to do things that you hadn’t really thought you were capable of achieving.
There’s got to be something in your lifetime that touches your soul so much that you know that that is the right thing to do.
There’s got to be something that you can do in this lifetime to change something for the better. Education or not, there’s something everyone should be doing with their lives, yes? The body is temporary, but the soul is endless. What have you done for your soul in this lifetime?
Vikkneshwari Rajendren is currently undertaking her final semester of the Bachelor of Midwifery program in Adelaide, South Australia. She plans to pursue her career in midwifery there following her graduation later this year. When she isn’t on call, at college, or delivering babies, she LOVES to bake (and share!). She believes greatly that life is about rendering help and spreading positivity to all. A classical bharathanatyam dancer of 13 years, she wishes to continue her journey in dance in the near future.