You’ve heard the scary tales of mean and rude midwives. Sure, some myths hold some truth, but others are just plain fiction. Whether you have thought about becoming a midwife or you just found yourself in the profession, it is true that the midwifery profession is one that is shunned. The role that midwives play in preparing women for the birth of a new life through all stages of pregnancy right from early post natal period cannot be down played.
In this article, Maria Najjemba, sets the record straight. “Midwifery is a noble profession. There is nothing as satisfying as helping bring somebody into this world.” Being a midwife carries a high level of responsibility. In this article, she discusses the lessons she has learnt so far and the options that young people have to grow a career in midwifery.
Maria Najjemba, Country Midwifery Adviser at Ministry of Health
Career path details
My first job in Midwifery was in administration. I was the District Nursing Officer, Mayuge district in the eastern Uganda. I currently work as a Country Midwifery Adviser at Ministry of Health with support from United Nations Population Fund. My work entails giving technical guidance to Ministry of Health and other ministries and departments on matters regarding midwifery education, practice regulation and association.
Why would someone consider midwifery as a career path? What opportunities are available in midwifery for young people?
Midwifery is one of the best careers because there is nothing as satisfying and rewarding as seeing and assisting somebody bring a life into this world. Supporting women and their families during the life changing event of giving birth brings personal fulfillment.
One can work in midwifery practice, education, administration and management of midwifery institutions. Also, a midwife is allowed to open and practice privately. As your knowledge and experience increase, you will move into more senior roles. You will be expected to provide leadership. Higher learning is also an option for a midwife who is interested in reaching the highest levels of this field.
What are the common misconceptions and how can young Africans/Ugandans prove them wrong?
The common misconception is that all midwives are rude and mistreat mothers. Young people joining midwifery can prove this wrong by sticking to the ethics and documenting best practices with mothers. Midwives should learn to tell their side of the story to show that what they are doing is critical to the improvement of people’s lives. Another misconception is that midwifery is a low grade profession but young people can join midwifery as a career of choice and study up to PhD level. Midwives can also work in high placed positions in different government ministries.
What advice can you give to someone who wants to start a career in midwifery? What skills are important for someone to grow in this field?
My advice to someone who wants to join midwifery is first of all to study science subjects. Here in Uganda, it is a requirement to have passed science subjects especially maths, biology, chemistry and physics. In addition, one must have passed English at O level. The highest level in Uganda is Masters in Midwifery but other countries have PhDs. At high levels, it is important to do some administration or management.
You can also start midwifery at certificate level and go through the ladders up to Masters in Uganda or PhD elsewhere. But you can also join midwifery at any level i.e. from secondary school. Senior four graduates can join at certificate level while senior six leavers can go for a diploma or degree. You can always upgrade your education, that is, from certificate to diploma to degree to Masters.
One must have the midwifery technical skills, communication skills, managerial skills and a positive attitude. As a midwife, you need to be committed, courageous, caring, compassionate and competent.
What have you learnt in your career and personal life that you would like to share with young Africans?
I have learnt that patience and hard work pays. I have also learnt that whatever I do, I should it to the best of my ability and love what I am doing. This is so motivating and has helped me go places. I have also learnt to maximize available resources to achieve results.