Oral histories of Black and Asian midwives inspire new generation

Nine midwives of Black and Asian heritage working in Manchester have shared their stories in a new book to encourage young people from the communities to join the profession.

The University of Manchester, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Loreto High School and Royal College of Midwives collaboration aim to increase numbers of student midwives from Black and Asian heritage.

The book, called With Women, was largely put together by young people from Loreto High School in Manchester with the support of midwives from the region.

Many women in the UK are from Black and Asian backgrounds and have needs that are culturally specific when they give birth.

Research has shown that midwives from a similar heritage to women they care for can improve their experience in hospital, and have a safer birth.

Noting that low numbers of student midwives are of Black and Asian heritage, this project involves promoting midwifery as a career to young people of colour.

The book about the journey Manchester midwives have taken to become a midwife describes their background, education and current roles.

It will be shared with young people across the country and is supported by Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Chief Midwifery Officer for England who has written the foreward.

Christine Furber, Reader in Midwifery at The University of Manchester said: “Midwives are vital to provide safe, effective and high-quality personalised care that women and families need during pregnancy and after birth.

“We’re delighted this project promotes the crucial task of encouraging young people from black and minority ethnic groups to join the profession.

“I’d like to thank the young people from Loretto for their amazing work which is especially relevant to us here in Greater Manchester where almost 50% of women who birth are from outside the UK.”

A student from Loretto called Anna Kay told her teacher: “It shows the struggles in the workplace which can affect peoople’s lives” and another student Rebakah said: “This book is importa t because it is informing and educating about the BAME society to show anything is positive no matter your background.”

We’re delighted this project promotes   the crucial task of  encouraging young  people from black and minority ethnic groups to join the profession
Christine Furber, Reader in Midwifery

Catherine Millan is a Student Recruitment and Widening Participation Officer from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups at The University of Manchester

She said: “Hearing the powerful and moving stories has enabled the young people on the project to really see what they can be.

“I want to thank everyone who has been involved for their continued dedication and commitment over the last year-while living through a global pandemic.

“I hope that the future generation of young people of colour read this book and be inspired to pursue Midwifery as a career.”

Kathy Murphy, Director of Nursing and Midwifery at Saint Mary’s Hospital, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said: “Personally, I am very proud to be have been part of the project and to see the book now completed is a massive achievement for everyone involved. I have been overwhelmed by the power of the life stories of our midwives involved in this book and truly inspired by their drive to be ‘With Women’

“It is increasingly important for maternity services to recognise the relevance of the diverse and complex needs of our local Manchester population and engagement with young people is central to that.”

Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE Chief Midwifery Officer NHS England, said: “The contribution that midwives make to the physical and psychological health outcomes and experiences of women and babies in our multicultural nation ripples through generations. This is why these authentic, diverse and multicultural perspectives shared by midwives about their midwifery careers matter. I am delighted that this book has now been published.”

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