Christine Grand is a registered midwife working in a labour ward at a hospital in Newport, South Wales.
Christine combined her passion for women’s rights with her desire to work in a caring profession to become a midwife. Having grown up in Stoke-on-Trent, Christine originally moved to Wales to care for her mother, but it turned out to be the best thing she could have done for her career and her family.
“While I was pregnant with my first child I saw first-hand the impact a midwife can have on a mother to be and her family, there were huge variations between the types of care I received – I had some amazing midwives, and some that made the whole process difficult. It was because of this that I wanted to become a midwife - women are at their most vulnerable throughout pregnancy and they deserve the best care possible. Becoming a midwife also combined two of my interests; women’s rights and the caring profession.
“I went back to college at twenty-eight to study an access to university course for 2 years. This was needed as I didn’t have the academic qualifications for university. I was pregnant for a portion of it so it was quite a challenge. After that, I applied to study midwifery at the University of the West of England (UWE). I didn’t get in the first time, so I did a counselling course for a year, which has added to my skillset and improved my abilities as a midwife. It helped me to better understand how to talk to women and families to get the most out of them and make their hospital experience the best it could be.
“I moved to Wales in 2006 to help care for my mother. It all happened very quickly, my family and I pretty much decided to up and go and that was it. It was scary, but it was what was needed at the time and we worked together as a family to build our new life in Wales.
“I started working in Newport in 2007, and instantly saw a huge difference to my training hospital in Bristol. I trained in an exceptional hospital, but there was an established hierarchy and I didn’t feel like I could step out of ‘my place’. From what I’ve seen in Wales, everyone is treated equally, regardless of grade, and has the opportunity to develop and progress their career. I feel supported both on a personal and professional level in Wales. At my current hospital, debate over methods of treatment and patient care is encouraged. We look at the evidence for the suggested approaches and consider which would be better for the situation in front of us. This also improves communication between us, women and families - as we are confident in the planned approach to care.
“It can be easy to accept that a more senior team member will know better than you, but that’s not always the case in woman centred care. We have specialised training, and more importantly, we probably know the mother to be, better. If you feel strongly about a certain course of action, you need to be involved in the discussion - I think that’s been my biggest challenge professionally, finding my voice. Working in Wales has helped me with this, as we’re encouraged to speak out, and ask when unsure - as there’s no such thing as a stupid comment or question. If you think it will help the mother to be, then you’re doing your job.
“My biggest accomplishment in my career is getting on the mentorship training scheme in Wales. I get to contribute to training the next generation of midwives and pass on what I’ve learned in my career. Seeing the young midwives blossom during their short time with me gets me excited for the rest of their careers, but also reminds me how far I’ve come myself. One trainee midwife jumps out in my memory… She had been really quiet and struggled with building relationships with women, something which is really important in our job. We were in the middle of a hard busy shift, with a lot of complex cases presenting. I had complete confidence in my mentee and able to confidently leave her for periods with the woman she was providing care to, whilst I helped my colleagues. When I returned, she had developed an amazing rapport with the woman and her family and supported her right through her labour. I’m still proud of her.
“Moving to Wales was a decision taken during a tough time - while my mother was ill - but it’s the best decision I’ve made and I wouldn’t change it for the world. As humans, we need to be in nature for the sake of our own mental and physical health, and opportunities to get outside are so easy to find in Wales. I love working on my allotment, which is just behind my house, and take every opportunity to spend some time on it – especially after a stressful day.
“I’ve found Wales so welcoming, there is no disparity between social classes and because it’s a small country it is much more inclusive and diverse than I experienced in England. My kids have such a great quality of life here, they get great schooling and we spend real quality time together. I now have a life I’m proud of, and I’m not sure that would have happened had I not moved to Wales.”