Blacktown Hospital midwife Nigina Hashimi is using her own experience as an Afghan refugee in Australia to help new mums from foreign backgrounds.
Nigina, who was born in Afghanistan but fled to Germany during the Taliban invasion, was just 19 when she arrived in Australia in 2007.
Fast forward four years and she gave birth to her little girl Sarah at Blacktown Hospital – the place she now fondly calls her “second home.”
“When I had my daughter, I saw the passion, support and dedication of the midwives and I knew I wanted to be a midwife too,” she said.
“I’d always had a passion for people and I wanted to pursue something where I could help people; I particularly wanted to empower women from all communities so midwifery seemed like a good fit.”
Nigina started studying for a Bachelor of Midwifery – with a newborn in tow! – completing stints as a student midwife at Blacktown Hospital before graduating.
She joined the hospital’s ranks as a graduate midwife and never left.
“I just feel connected to the hospital in so many ways,” she said.
“I’d honestly like to grow old in Blacktown Hospital and just continue to follow my passion in the meantime.”
Nigina is now studying a Masters Degree in Midwifery, researching the perceptions of women from diverse backgrounds on skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth.
She is keen to use her own experience as a new migrant giving birth in Australia to help other newly-arrived mums.
“Women from culturally diverse backgrounds in Australia are already in a vulnerable state when they’re pregnant; when you add in cultural differences and language barriers, it can be even more stressful,” she said.
“I just want to help these women and their families as they become parents in a foreign country; by providing better care and improving their experience, they’ll feel so much more welcomed.
“As someone who’s been a refugee and moved from country to country, I am culturally diverse, speak several languages and have an understanding of what women might need – and expect.
“I’m really hoping my research helps contribute to improvements in maternity services in Australia.”