Abu Dhabi: Noora Salem Al Ameri had always known that she would work in the medical field. What she did not know, however, is that she would help to bring babies into this world.
“Being a midwife is unusually rewarding. In fact, during my very first delivery, I could not help but shed tears of joy along with the mother and her family,” the 29-year-old Emirati told Gulf News.
Noora is one of three Emirati women to complete the first midwifery qualification in the UAE. She began on the Bachelor of Applied Science in Midwifery in 2011 with 10 other nurses, and graduated from the programme about a month ago.
But the newly certified midwife says she did not always know that she wanted to help mothers-to-be.
“My own mother was always hoping that I would become a doctor. I was not so sure. When I started university, I joined a programme in Chemistry, but my heart was not set on it. So I opted out, and soon found myself gravitating towards nursing as a profession,” Noora said.
“While I was training as a nurse, I happened to be working in the delivery unit. At first, I was afraid of all the confusion and the pain experienced by the mother. But when the newborn baby was finally handed to her, her joy knew no bounds, and I found myself crying with the family,” she added.
Noora wanted to be a part of the process and this led to her sign up for the midwifery programme as soon as it became available.
Speaking about the role of a midwife, Noora said it is one of advocating for pregnant women.
“In case of an uncomplicated pregnancy and normal delivery, the midwife is with the mother-to-be from the beginning, even during her antenatal consultations. We can advise her on dealing with the pregnancy, what to eat, what exercises to perform and how to deal with labour pains,” she said.
In the delivery room, a midwife is the sole coordinator for a normal delivery.
“We help the mother deal with labour, and suggest whether she needs drugs to relieve pain. In case a doctor is called, we continue advocating for the mother and communicating her needs,” Noora said.
A midwife is also usually able to spend more time with the mother than a doctor, and it is even more helpful when she speaks the mother’s language.
“There is currently a stigma among many women that a doctor’s care is preferable over a midwife’s even in case of a normal pregnancy. But having been trained under international standards, we hope to dispel it soon,” Noora explained.
Asked why so few Emirati women chose to become midwives, she added that the role of a midwife had been overlooked by today’s generation.
“Most importantly, no training programmes were available in the UAE to train women for this job, and so pregnant women ended up always visiting a doctor, even when it was not necessary. Now that this programme is available however, it could attract a lot of hopeful Emiratis. In fact, women may be more comfortable becoming midwives than nurses, especially as it means that one only needs to deal with female patients and babies,” Noora explained.
Khadra Saeed, 35, another midwife from Somalia who recently completed the Corniche Hospital programme, said that Emirati mothers might prefer to have Emirati midwives.
“Women are usually more comfortable discussing their pregnancies, needs and fears with those who share similar cultural views,” Saeed said.
“This is why more Emirati women must sign up for the qualification. Moreover, as soon as an Emirati graduates from the programme, she is a registered midwife. There is no need to sit for any other tests or exams,” Noora urged.
The new midwife has now dived headlong into a three-month internship in which mentors train her to function independently.