Imperial College research midwives embraced the opportunity to showcase the varied career of midwifery to young people at the Creative Culture public engagement event held on the 17th November 2017, with the event providing the perfect opportunity to highlight the pathway for midwives into a varied career which can include clinical research.
Creative Quarter is an annual event which offers secondary school students the chance to explore different career paths in art, science, design, technology, music and drama. This event showcases the rich tapestry of professions and disciplines that are featured within the Exhibition Road enclave of South Kensington. During the event, 400 students ages 13- 18 attended demonstration lectures, took part in interactive exhibits and found out more about careers in science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) at Imperial. Midwives from the Women’s Health Research Centre added to this offering by illustrating to students the wide range of creative opportunities available to midwives today.
As luck would have it, the event coincided with World Prematurity Day 2017, providing a perfect handle from which to discuss an area of research in which midwives are active. Research Midwives Rachel Akers, Malko Adan and Alison Perry were on hand to talk about some of the current prematurity research at Imperial, as well as the wider research agenda in reproductive health and childbearing.
We considered prematurity with students in a global context and contemplated both reasons and remedies for prematurity. We had multiple bags of sugar on hand to help with conceptualizing disparities in baby sizes which made for some vibrant dialogue and theorizing. One student shared with us that she, herself had been born premature, weighing only 1 kilogram at birth, she smiled with a bag of caster sugar in hand.
Additionally, we looked at the physiology and mechanics of birth with a torso, doll and placenta. Students bounced away on birth balls at our table while nibbling on jelly babies self-served with a pair of laboratory tweezers.
We were charmed to learn that many of the students knew their own birth stories including a student who knew that she was born “in the caul”. We marvelled at the precociousness of some students who wondered about possible disadvantages of being born by caesarean section and others who considered the possible difficulties of being born in a low-income setting. Overall, we were astounded by the level of inquiry from the students and also delighted to facilitate the many questions of their teachers, too. Creative Quarter display tables were set up in the foyer of the Main Entrance hall on Exhibition Road, which meant we also had the opportunity to chat with some of our Imperial College colleagues and to settle some of their own burning questions around birth.
The day ended on a high as some students left with helium balloons (which were around the size of a 30-week uterus) and others left with pockets lined of jelly babies for the bus ride back to school. Undoubtedly, all of the students left with the creativity, intrigue and possibility of the midwifery profession firmly in their minds.