How tragedy motivated USW midwifery student to help others

Myscha-Dene Bates with her daughter Phoenix. Myscha won The Foundation of Infant Loss: Student Midwife of the Year 2017’.

Myscha-Dene Bates with her daughter Phoenix

When Myscha-Dene Bates’ daughter Bobi was born stillborn 36 weeks into her pregnancy, it was obviously a heartbreaking time.

But the loss of the little girl, in June 2010, proved to be a huge part of Myscha’s life that has seen her create positivity from a personal tragedy.

In the months to follow Bobi’s birth, Myscha, who is now 28, and her fiance Damian, now 31 – who live in Abergavenny - established the Bobi-phiel Memorial Fund, to fundraise locally and support bereavement services within maternity care.

The funds raised helped to maintain a bereavement suite and an infants’ memorial garden.

In May 2011, Myscha’s second daughter Phoenix was born ­– an event that gave her the inspiration to move into healthcare.

“It was coming the full circle and experiencing both ends of the spectrum of pregnancy and birth –  from huge tragedy to immense joy at the safe arrival of Phoenix – that created my passion for a new career,” she explained.

“Despite already running a successful photography business, I decided that I wanted to study to become a midwife.”

It was a role that Myscha had always been interested in.

“I loved caring for people from when I was a child. I am the eldest of six children, and without consciously knowing it when I was young, I wanted to be a midwife. I was always interested in pregnancy and birth as my mother went through it,” she said.

“Having been through two very different life-changing experiences when becoming a mother, I felt I had an appreciation of the diverse, challenging, yet rewarding, role of a midwife, as I feel it is important to have a realistic view of Midwifery when applying and training.

“In 2014 I began training at the University of South Wales (USW) to become a registered midwife."

Myscha’s efforts to raise awareness of infant loss have now gained national recognition.

At the National Infant Loss Conference this month (March 10), Myscha was presented with ‘The Foundation of Infant Loss: Student Midwife of the Year 2017’ award, which honours an ‘A student midwife who has demonstrated a commitment to raising levels of bereavement care in maternity services following a pregnancy or infant loss’.

While being pleased to receive the honour, Myscha – who has recently organised workshops for 100 midwives and students across local health boards on the subject of bereavement care – believes that it isn’t losing a child that enables you to offer compassionate care to bereaved families within maternity settings, but it has given her a very unique perspective on the subject.

“The grief experienced when losing a child is undoubtedly unique, the most important thing when supporting families is showing empathy, compassion, and appreciation that every family is different,” she said.

“Care should be individualised, as we do for any other patient in any other aspect of midwifery. What one patient may find comforting will not necessarily be the same for the next patient, despite similarities in their circumstances.

“I suppose I have a unique perspective, being both a bereaved parent and a student midwife, and both angles have helped me develop a better understanding of where funding could possibly be targeted, not only to improve bereaved families’ experiences but also to improve the confidence professionals have in caring for these families.

“It is one aspect of midwifery amongst many that I am really passionate about, so I am overwhelmed to have been nominated for this award.”

Joy James, Specialist Lead/Lead midwife for the Midwifery degree at USW, who put Myscha’s name forward to be considered for the award, paid tribute to the final year student.

“Myscha’s activity made it easy for me to nominate her, and I am delighted that her good work has been recognised in these awards,” she said. 

#nursing-health-sciences #nursing #midwifery #midwifery-students