If women in the Bahawalpur district of the Punjab are looking for help with their pregnancy, they look for Abida Parveen.
Abida, Post-RM BScM '16, runs a birthing centre from where she helps 15 to 20 women a month safely delivery their babies. Her clients, with low-risk pregnancies, come from all over the district and she takes pride in being able to counsel expectant mothers and involve them in decision-making about their pregnancy, the birthing process and parenting.
“My goal is to ensure that the mothers-to-be who come to my clinic feel comfortable and supported throughout their pregnancy and after childbirth and, as a midwife, I seek to help them experience birth as a normal, physiological process," says Abida.
Abida is well aware of the need for supporting women and providing quality health care services, particularly obstetric care. Her initial experience was at the rural health centre in her area. However, she soon realised that her limited exposure to the otherwise very broad scope of midwifery practice alongside her lack of experience was a hindrance. She could not make quick, informed decisions in complicated pregnancies and a weak referral system was preventing her from providing holistic care to the women.
“I knew I had the basic skills required of a midwife. But to ensure better health outcomes and to thoroughly understand the complications that require timely interventions, I needed more advanced skills and knowledge," says Abida. She needed more than a diploma in general nursing and midwifery.
Enter AKU and School of Nursing and Midwifery's programme that offered her hope. Recalling the time when she decided to travel to Karachi for her education, Abida said: “My son was just two years old when I came to study at AKU. However, the support that I got from my family lifted my spirits high. I am also very fortunate to have had mentors and teachers who were my biggest support system at the University."
Abida received financial assistance at the School that covered the costs of her two-year programme and accommodation at the University's on-campus hostel.
Today, she is the only degree-holding midwife in her district. Better still, she recently obtained her independent midwifery practice license, issued by the Punjab Healthcare Commission on the basis of her bachelor's degree.
Now her passion and ambition to help women in her community has progressed to an even more ambitious goal: advocating for women's empowerment, especially when it comes to taking responsibility for their health and for the health of their families.