It really is the best job in the world says midwife and teacher
Wintec teacher and midwife, De Cleaver keeps her clinical practice current by continuing her midwifery practice.
Caring for a woman who had adopted her child and induced lactation was such a profound experience, it led to a career turning point for Hamilton-based midwife De Cleaver.
What happened next led to a career at Wintec where she has discovered a love of teaching - midwifery of course.
“Caring for that adoptive mother was such a profound experience, I decided to write about it. I submitted my abstract to the New Zealand College of Midwives and was asked to present at their biannual conference. After the presentation I was approached by a Wintec midwifery tutor who suggested I apply for a teaching role at Wintec. Until that moment I’d never even considered teaching.”
That was almost four years ago and she now mainly teaches on the first and third year of the Bachelor of Midwifery programme.
“I absolutely love teaching. The best thing about midwifery is the partnership and connection you share with women and whānau. Now I get to share that connection and journey with my students. I feel so privileged to be a midwife and teacher. It can be hard sometimes, but it really is the best job in the world.”
This change in career hasn’t been without its own set of challenges.
“I didn’t have much experience public speaking and had to overcome my nerves around speaking to large groups. I still get nervous with first year students that I haven’t met before,” she admits.
“People learn in different ways and it can be hard meeting everyone’s needs in class and making sure that my teaching is relevant and makes sense to everyone. Creating a safe and inclusive space is important to me”
These challenges faded into oblivion when she saw her students graduate at Wintec’s Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa Marae graduation in March this year.
“We’ve been on a transformative and uplifting journey together over the last three years and seeing the pride and joy on the students’ faces at graduation was special.”
A Bachelor of Midwifery graduate herself; Cleaver was one of 56 students in Wintec’s very first intake of midwifery in 1996.
“I was studying social sciences and women’s studies at university when I fell pregnant at 20. My first birth was prior to midwifery autonomy. I read a lot and had a birth plan which was unusual back then. There were no informed choice and consent in those days.”
“It got me thinking about midwifery as a career option but I wanted to wait for midwifery autonomy and direct entry training.”
By the time Wintec began offering a midwifery programme in 1996, Cleaver was a mother to two young children. She gave birth to her second child at home, an experience she loved and after she graduated, she chose to specialise in home births. She had a third baby shortly into her career, also born at home.
“Home birthing has always been my focus and passion. For a well woman with a well baby, birthing at home is the safest place to birth.
“Home birth happens in the woman’s space and it is the best place for women to birth in the way she wants to, surrounded by the people she wants there.
Now a grandmother of five, she has helped bring all her grandchildren into the world and a few nieces.
“It’s such an honour to support family at these beautiful life-changing moments. Supporting my eldest daughter in her birthing and seeing her become a mother has been one of the highlights of my midwifery career.”
As well as working full-time at Wintec, she still takes on a small caseload of clients each year and mentors in the First Year of Practice Programme for newly registered midwives.
“Continuing to practise midwifery while I teach, helps keep my clinical practice current and fresh.
Being a midwife fills my heart and makes me a better teacher, midwifery is a calling, not just a job.”
This year, 2020 is the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. This story is part of a series where nurses and midwives who have graduated from or worked with Wintec tell their stories.