Senior Staff Nurse Saidah Saini shares her passion for her role as a mid-wife, including how she is trained to handle complicated, high-risk pregnancies, as well as normal births.
“I was interested in midwifery from a really young age, thinking it was all about cuddling cute babies. Growing up, my mum told me stories about my great-grandmother who was a village midwife. As I learnt more, I was fascinated by the science and experience of pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal care.
What struck me about Midwifery was how it was not only about handling one life at a time, but sometimes multiple lives – either in cases of multiple births or cases where the mother’s life is affected.
The thought of this responsibility was daunting but it has only kept me very curious.
By a stroke of fate, I was posted to the SGH Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G) ward immediately after graduation in 2008. With my supervisors' help and support, I got formally certified as a Midwife in 2013 and started working alongside great medical and nursing colleagues in the Labour ward. I feel a very special bond with the Labour Ward…something I could never put a finger on. Probably the passion just grew in the 15 years that I have been working in SGH.
Working in an acute hospital like SGH is great, professionally. While we see many mothers with normal pregnancies, I also get to deal with the challenges and complexities of high risk pregnancies frequently. We work closely with multidisciplinary teams to ensure the best possible outcomes for our high risk pregnant mothers. These include the wonderful guidance and resources support from our Maternal Fetal Medicine team running the Centre for High Risk Pregnancies (CHiRP) and our reputable Neonatal department, which cares for severely ill new-borns including extremely preterm babies who need support after birth.
(From left) Saidah with CHiRP colleagues and in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
A few years ago I succeeded in joining the Teaching Faculty for the Singapore Neonatal Resuscitation Course by SingHealth Academy. I felt my colleagues in the Labour ward could benefit from having me as a resource person in this area. Currently, there are three of us in this role. It has been a humbling journey – I have gained confidence through sharing my knowledge and skills with colleagues in SGH as well as the ones from the private sectors.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic challenged us to be adaptable. Imagine having to transform an Isolation Ward into a Labour Ward for women who were COVID positive. We literally opened up a mini labour ward! We developed protocols and organised workflows to successfully manage these cases.
My favourite part about being a midwife
As a midwife, I bear witness to the rawest life-changing moments the women I care for would ever experience. I personally felt more for these women after I became a mother. My favourite part of the job is empowering these women by educating and guiding them to decide their care options based on evidence-based practice. Even for something as seemingly simple as pain management, there is so much information to share with a first-time mother. It can often get overwhelming for these mothers. And as midwives, we are best able to provide that voice of reason and reassurance to guide them through their journey.
The other side of being a midwife
There are days when I have to walk with families through tragedy when they lose their babies. No matter how many times I have done it, a part of me still breaks every time I encounter a death. Nothing prepares us enough for such situations. So I jumped at the opportunity to join the SGH Neonatal Bereavement Team last year. There is so much for me to learn from fellow team members especially in Singapore where coping with loss can vary greatly by culture and religion. Joining the team has helped me to be a better pillar of strength and comfort for the families who have lost a child.
Seeking new adventures
Through the years, I have become the unofficial professional advisor for family members, relatives, friends and even friends of friends for all things relating to pregnancy. I am consulted on anything from preconception to labour and from breastfeeding to even new-born or toddler care! This ignited a desire to educate the public in the community. So I was thrilled to be able to take up a Graduate Certification in Advance Clinical Care of Women & Children. I was really excited as the programme targets care in the community and allowed me to cross train in KKH which ran the course.
A midwife forever
Since the SGH O&G ward is a small unit, we are a close-knit team. My colleagues are a very integral part of me being a midwife. I am so proud of the relationships and trust we have built personally and professionally. We feel safe and confident, knowing that we are always there for each other especially when things go south. I know I can always count on them and I say this from the bottom of my heart that I truly appreciate all my colleagues, my second family.
Being a midwife has made Saidah appreciate her own family and kids more.
I do not think I would ever get bored of handing the little bundles of joy for the new parents. It is lovely and priceless to see their expressions at that first union. Just like my great-grandmother who was a village midwife, I am the ‘village midwife’ to all the women I care for.
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