Well, as with many other inspirational student midwives, I 'met' Liz via Twitter. Her name appeared regularly, on midwifery debates and forums, and her enthusiasm and drive attracted my attention. I think the calibre of student midwives is getting better and better; women (and men!) entering our profession are kind, compassionate and quite dynamic.
So, here's Liz Blamire!
Hi Liz, many thanks indeed for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog! I am delighted...would you like to start by introducing yourself?
I am a third year student midwife at Anglia Ruskin University. I am also a wife and mother of two children aged 10 and 12. I am 36 years old and I love to read and I like fast cars!
Great! Can you tell us about why you decided to become a midwife, and what influenced your decision?
When pregnant with my daughter I discovered the world of pregnancy, labour and birth and the political aspect appealed to me. I had home water births and for me, birthing was very much about womanhood, body awareness and feminine power. I felt incredibly in touch with myself. In my subsequent voluntary work with NCT I met many women for whom the experience was very different, with disempowerment, loss of control and a ‘grin and bear it’ experience being common themes. It was largely the influence of my husband – “don’t just moan about it, get in on the inside and change it!” – that pushed me to apply. In fact, I had a place to start the Midwifery BSc in 2005 and I ultimately declined the place as the children were so young and my husband was starting his own business. In retrospect I probably would not have made it through the course back then. Instead I started in March 2011 – again because of my husband, who said “you are going to be a midwife now” when I had all but forgotten about the dream.
What are the things you enjoy most as a student midwife Liz?
The best part of being a student midwife is the amazing rapport you can build with women. Women surprise me everyday, with their strength, character and sense of humour. We get to take part in the most intimate and transformative journey that most women go through. What can beat that?
And what things would you change, if you could?
How long have you got?! This is actually a very difficult question as my experience has been overwhelmingly positive although I know that many student midwives struggle with various aspects of the training. The hardest things for me have revolved around getting the work / life balance right. The work of the midwife is emotionally draining and sometimes I feel like I need the equivalent amount of quiet, contemplative time to heal myself. So it can be incredibly hard to finish a 12.5 hour shift and then know that when you get home you need to strongly encourage the children to do their homework and clean out the hamsters! Or deal with a family problem such as friendship fall outs at school and upset 12 year old girls, or just be nice to your husband…
Mentorship is very important to student midwives, and I understand why. We hear different accounts from students about their mentors -some good, and some not so good. Can you think about the best mentor you have had, and tell us what her qualities are that make her stand out?
Hand on heart every mentor I have had has been incredibly good. The qualities I appreciate most are the qualities I try and embody in my own midwifery practice and I see the mentor-student relationship as very similar to the midwife-mother relationship. To be supportive, nurturing and always act with integrity. To enable hopes and targets to be realised, even if that means you have to be pushed slightly out of your comfort zone. To have a mutual respect for and learn from each other.
I know that you are involved in extra activity, such as your work with the Royal College of Midwives. Can you tell us about that and anything else you do outside your regular training?
You are right I am the (outgoing) chair of the Student Midwives Forum at the RCM. I am also on the Steering Group of the Association of Radical Midwives. In that role I am hosting an amazing (if I do say so myself) meeting in Northamptonshire on December 7th 2013.
Obviously I try and get out and about with my children, usually involving a long walk in a country park and a sneaky lunch out somewhere! I used to spend a lot of time attending motorsport events and I am actually the co-owner (with my husband) of a company that tunes performance cars, although I have only been to two events this year. My motorsport life sometimes seems like a world away from midwifery and yet, those old friends are all incredibly supportive and love to hear about birth and stuff even when twirling a spanner over an engine bay!
What are your long term plans?
I absolutely want to work in a low risk setting. Either a stand alone midwifery led unit, or as a caseload midwife. I would also like to undertake postgraduate study and dream of being a Professor of Midwifery (probably clinical) one day. Most of all though, I want to continue to enjoy the profession and keep my passion burning and make a difference to as many women as possible.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to become a midwife?
Find out as much as you can about midwifery, the good and bad bits. Try and meet different kinds of midwives. If you still want to do it and think you can, the only way you will fully know is to try it.
Many thanks Liz, you obviously made the right choice, as your passion shines through in your words. I am sure already you are making an enormous difference to women and families you care for.
Liz can be contacted via Twitter : @Li33ieBee