They say childbirth changes a woman forever but for one woman giving birth for the first time would ultimately send her career in a direction she had never imagined.
After losing three litres of blood after the birth of her first child, Kate Taylor (GradCertClinEd ’20) became aware of how lucky she was to be living in a country with access to quality maternal health care.
‘It was fairly traumatic in the end, but it was managed amazingly well and I came out of it relatively unscathed,’ she says. ‘If that happened to me anywhere else other than in a well-resourced situation I possibly wouldn’t have survived.
‘It really alerted me to the fact that midwives and their practice actually saves lives and it’s more than just cuddling babies.’
Kate is not the only one with appreciation for midwives, with the World Health Organisation declaring 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, and 5 May the International Day of the Midwife.
‘The swift action and quality care they provide is essential,’ she says. ‘They work in partnership with doctors and specialists and they’re on the front line.’
Two more children and two university degrees on and Kate is a registered midwife working in clinical practice and lecturing in midwifery at Flinders University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
But it’s her humanitarian pursuits that are truly inspiring. Before studying at university Kate felt she needed to give back to the world and decided to travel to Cambodia to volunteer on a floating medical clinic. She was assigned to maternal care. With no formal midwifery training, she had only experience to lean on and quickly learnt that childbirth for women in low-resourced countries is very different to back at home.
‘I saw a woman with tears rolling down her face, and it haunts me to this very day. She said that her mother had died from giving birth to her and that she herself was now petrified.
‘I thought something must be done here. So, I looked at a few different maternity organisations in Cambodia and there was a couple in the capital city. But we were out in the middle of nowhere and these girls couldn’t access that.
‘On the way back to Australia I was having this internal argument with myself that somebody had to do something. By the time the plane landed I knew that that somebody was going to be me. I’d enrol in midwifery to get my degree and go back and help.’
After three years of study while raising three young children, Kate became a qualified midwife. Since 2007, and with the help of hundreds of maternal health specialists from Australia, she has travelled back to Cambodia and delivered training to more than 4,000 midwives, doctors and traditional birth attendants.
Her maternal health organisation The 2H Project has helped improve maternal health care for Cambodian women and their babies by providing training, education and resources.
During the current COVID-19 crisis, Kate and her team have postponed trips to Cambodia but have fundraised to send PPE (personal protective equipment) such as gloves and hand sanitiser over. They’ve also transitioned all face-to-face training to online and are keeping in virtual contact with hospitals and clinics.
Aside from her humanitarian work, Kate is equally as passionate about maternal education back at home. She teaches future midwives at Flinders University, using her experiences to inspire students about forging a global career.
She is also a Flinders alumni, having studied a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Education in 2019 and is now studying part-time towards a Master’s degree.
‘These students who come through are quite passionate about the midwifery degree before they’ve even started,’ says Kate. ‘I really enjoy letting them know about the options of this global maternity world we live in to try and inspire them to step out and go beyond.’
Despite her worldly experience, people often ask Kate the same question – how many babies have you delivered in your life and does it get boring?
The answer is no – witnessing the miracle of birth is amazing each time, she says.
‘The whole labour experience is horrifically painful but it’s such a worthwhile journey. And then to be with the new parent or parents and play a part in that joy is an absolute honour,’ says Kate. ‘Even when things go wrong, to be able to experience and be a part of that with families who are either exceedingly happy or incredibly sad, it’s a real honour.
‘It’s those real and raw emotions and that make midwifery amazing.’
Flinders graduates have global reach and international impact, read more