When Yvette Clark connected with a student midwife during her pregnancy, it opened her eyes to an exciting career. She had such a positive experience, she is now a student herself.
Yvette decided to study midwifery as a mature student. The mother of six lives and studies in Toowoomba, completing her placements locally and enjoying the blended mode of learning that combines online classes with face-to-face learning both in Toowoomba and occasionally at Griffith’s Logan campus.
Yvette’s path to study is a unique one – while many of Griffith’s midwifery students have children of their own, it was through the positive experiences of her student midwife during her fourth and fifth pregnancy that first sparked her interest in study.
“I was 32 weeks pregnant when a student midwife asked if she could follow the rest of my pregnancy. Her name was Maryanne. She was there for one of my appointments and asked if I’d be happy to have a student as part of my experience,” Yvette recalls.
“We established quite a great relationship, so Maryanne joined my husband in my main support team during my labour, supervised by a registered midwife. She was just one of those beautiful people who really makes an impact.
“When I got pregnant with another baby, she was one of the first people we told, and as she was still studying, we asked if she would be our midwife again. The second time around, she had a more active role in my care and birth experience as she had been studying longer.”
Maryanne can’t believe the impact she has had on Yvette, both as a midwife while Yvette was pregnancy, and now a friend and colleague.
“It is a privilege to journey with a woman and her family during her pregnancy and birth. I was very excited when Yvette told me three years ago that she was thinking of studying the Bachelor of Midwifery. Serendipity came into play and I was able to pass on details about an upcoming information session specifically about midwifery at Griffith for Toowoomba applicants,” Maryanne says.
“Yvette contacted me when she sent her application in and after she received the news of her acceptance. I felt such happiness for her and knew that she would thrive following her passion. Yvette is an inspiring woman, thoughtful, kind, dedicated and hard working.”
Maryanne now works as a midwife with Queensland Health at the Toowoomba Public Hospital. She has been working there since graduating in 2016 and is still in contact with Yvette. Her advice for other students is to take advantage of the opportunities available.
“I was a mature student myself. My advice to other students in the same position is that if there is something you have always dreamed of doing or being, then seize the day!” Maryanne says.
“Don’t let the thought that you are too old, or any other excuse stop you. Make the call, contact the university or training organisation, follow your dream, and find your passion. Life is precious, don’t waste it.
“It has been so enjoyable now working with Yvette as a student midwife, she brings a wealth of experience with her for each woman she cares for. Having shared such intensely beautiful life experiences creates a bond that with some endures for possibly a lifetime. I believe that we share that link and always will.”
Yvette and her family had such a positive, full experience with Maryanne, that when she had baby number 6, she realised she wanted to make a career as a midwife herself.
“I attended an information session for the Bachelor of Midwifery prior to applying and they spoke about the philosophy of midwifery and the fact they look at the women as a whole, not just the pregnancy,” Yvette explains.
“Hearing the meta values they discussed in that session was amazing, it’s exactly what drew me to be a midwife. Our studies aren’t solely focused on the medicalisation of birth, and the woman is the centre of our studies.”
Yvette is now in her second year of study. She has completed placements at the Toowoomba Hospital and in a private midwifery practice, and even experienced a home birth.
“Being in Toowoomba we see a lot of people away from home who have had to transfer in due to complications during pregnancy, who may not be able to see people for weeks while they stay in hospital for care. That’s an aspect you don’t see as often in the city.
“I was lucky to be part of a home birth experience. I loved it – it was different to what you come to expect. A home birth is about being mobile, in your own home, so even more so you have the power because you’re in your space and you’re more comfortable. It’s a very different experience and I think it’s something we’re lucky to be able to experience at Griffith – I’m not sure of any other universities allow us to attend home births.”
Like Maryanne, Yvette has a deep understanding of the importance of continuity of care for pregnant women and feels immense privilege to follow and help the mother through their pregnancy. While completing her degree, she feels she has grown herself as a person, a mother, and a healthcare professional.
“I’ve noticed I’m a much more confident person. I’ve been a stay-at-home mum for 13 years, and suddenly here I am studying! I was very passionate about midwifery, that’s why I chose to study, but over time It’s become about me – it’s my outlet, it’s helped me find myself, it’s something I can do that’s about me. Even when it’s stressful I still love it,” Yvette explains.
“I feel like I’m much more aware of who I am as a person, my values, where I’ve come from and how I’ve gotten to where I am now, and those things that influence me. I can see the difference it’s making in my kids – they’re already starting to talk about finishing school and going to university.
“Studying midwifery itself, it’s normalising birth. My kids aren’t scared by it. My sons will grow up and if or when they have babies, it’s not going to be all brand-new information for them. They’ll be in an even better position to be supportive. And my daughters will hopefully never feel like they don’t understand what’s happening to them, and understand the voice they have during pregnancy, labour, and beyond.”
If like Yvette and Maryanne you would like to support women during their pregnancy and birth, discover the career that awaits you in midwifery and the degree options available from Griffith.