- 11 May 2023
- 11 min read
Discussing Intersectionality In The NHSSubscribe To Advice
Registered Midwife Louisa shares with us the importance of and her experiences with intersectionality within key areas of the NHS.
Hey, guys. My name is Louisa. I am a Registered Midwife here in London, and today's video is going to be about intersectionality.
I'm going to read you the definitions of intersectionality: the analytical one and also how it relates to healthcare.
Intersectionality is the analytical framework for understanding how a person's various social and political identities combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege.
And then within healthcare, it actually is a way of allowing us to understand how different people experience inequality and it helps us to have a deeper look into the complex intersections of social and other identities and why we think the way we think, basically.
1000s of jobs for Nurses & Care Professionals. No.1 for UK nursing, care & healthcare jobs.Search Jobs
My Experience With Intersectionality
I'm just going to go off with me and my experiences with intersectionality and within the NHS, working as a midwife, and how that has helped me within my career as a midwife.
I am a woman; I am a Black woman. I'm also a young Black woman and I am a young Black woman with a long-term health condition. All those different parts of me, those are different parts of my identity. They all make up who I am.
There’re other parts of me as well, but these are the main ones that guide me because my social and my political viewpoints are rolled into who I am and how that affects me.
Being a woman, especially working within women's health, because I'm a midwife, it works out really well. I can empathize with women, not completely I guess because I've never had a child, but I'm able to empathize with the pain and the idea of pregnancy and what we have to give up as women and what's expected of us as women to be given up when we become mothers and what we're expected to do when we become mothers because we are women and not men.
I use that part of my identity to be able to really connect with the women that I look after and the people I look after who are able to bear children. That's really been helpful for me as a midwife.
Intersectionality & Relating To Patients
The second part is that I am a Black woman and being able to identify people or ethnic minorities and being able to identify other Black women has been really helpful in certain situations because there's so much stigma within the Black and ethnic minority groups of talking about mental health.
But within midwifery and within the antenatal, intrapartum, postpartum areas of midwifery, mental health is such an important thing. You are growing a human being within you or someone is being a surrogate for you, and it's just becoming apparent it's a whole new ballgame. It's a whole new set of responsibilities, especially if you are growing the human within you, you have added hormones within you and it's just something that can really, really throw you off balance and off your usual way of being.
And so, having someone who looks like you or looks similar to you or can understand the cultural impact that is put within you, just helps.
I'm able to see Black women or women of colour and be like, "Hey, I know you've been through something really traumatic or a very tense experience, please do look after your mental health. Please do go ask for help. Please go and use every single resource that's available to you. These are the resources available to you so that you can make sure your mental health is okay."
Because as much as we are physically healing after giving birth, we also need to mentally and spiritually heal as well. I've never actually really had someone being like, "No, no, no, I don't do that."
But a lot of the times I have women going, "Wow, I can't talk about this with my mom because she is from Nigeria, or she is from Jamaica, or she is from India, and mental health is just not a thing we talk about." And it's like, "I know, I've had to advocate for myself for so many years and so now this is my chance to advocate for you."
And it's something that is just so amazing to be able to just do and see and to help someone on their journey of becoming a mother or becoming a parent and actually being able to be mentally okay as well as physically okay and capable of doing that job. That's something that's really cool.
I get to relate to people and use that bit of me to identify, I understand the cultural background bit of this, and this is where I've come to help.
Sometimes, especially post-COVID, it's just really nice to have someone understand what you are going through or see something from your perspective because they can see how different parts of you make up who you are.
What Do You Think?
Ask questions, comment and like this article below! Share your thoughts, add your opinion in the comments below.Comment
Intersectionality & Age
Also being a young woman as well is something that I never really thought, oh, this is such a big deal. Because I guess where I trained, it was a lot more older women. Older, is that rude?
Where I trained, it's a lot more women who were within their thirties and forties. So, I never really got to use that part of me of the fact that I am young, I'm 25, about to be 26, and I can relate to people of my age.
I can't necessarily relate to people younger than me because it's a whole different generation, but I do try.
And that's just something that I've been able to use a lot recently as a qualified midwife and just actually relating to people no matter where they're from but just relating to them on age. We're 25 or we're 23 or however old they are, and being like, "I know people are thinking little of us or thinking that we can't do what we need to do, but we can."
And we're able to just uplift people and be like, "Yeah, we're young, but look at us. Look at me, look at you, and look at where we are. This is something we can do." It is such a great thing because it's just that camaraderie that you get.
Even when it's just the midwives, the other midwives who are young. Sometimes you can see the young midwives and the older midwives and us young midwives are like, "We've got to stick together because the older midwives think we can't do our job, but we can. Hence, why we've gotten through three years of uni and we're qualified and we're doing our job well.”
But also, be able to relate to people who are young and pregnant. It's like, "Hey, I see you. Whatever you need, just let me know. Nothing is a silly question. Nothing is an inconvenience. I'm here for you and I want you to be able to trust me and this healthcare system to look after you and help provide you with the things that you need."
Intersectionality & Health
Lastly, looking at the newer part of me, which is a young Black woman with a long-term health condition, that is something that is fairly new. I got diagnosed maybe two years and two months ago with an autoimmune disease. And it's been a long but also short two years of figuring out what I can and can't do.
Even to this day, the day that I'm filming this video, I still don't know what I can and can't do. I don't know what will trigger my autoimmune disease to flare up or what's going to cause me pain or what's actually good for me or what's not good for me. I'm still figuring it out.
It's such a big learning curve, especially to have as a healthcare professional, and you're trying to be looking after other people, to try and also figure out what is working for you and what you can't do.
But I've been really lucky because actually quite a few of the midwives I work with have long-term health conditions, so they are able to make adaptations for me and they're able to help me and sympathize with me so that I'm able to do my job to my fullest capability.
But that's also really cool that I get to also relate to other women who have the same autoimmune disease as me or have a similar autoimmune disease as me, or just any other woman who has a long-term health condition, especially one that leads them to have chronic pain because we get to just be in this together. And it's cool to be like, "Oh, you have that pain too? I have that pain. I just thought it was me."
It's a really, I guess, morbid thing to bond over.
But it's really nice to just see yourself reflected in another person or to see one of your struggles reflected in another person and to be able to talk to that person to see what they did to help them, and for you to be able to say, "Oh, this is what I've done and that's helped me so far."
It's a really nice thing to be able to talk to other people about. That is something that I just didn't even expect having an autoimmune disease and starting my job. But I have met so many women who were pregnant and have had similar or the same autoimmune disease as me.
And just talking to them and hearing their stories has actually uplifted me when I'm supposed to be uplifting them. But it's a really cool thing that we can just bond over and connect about.
Become A Community Contributor
Share your story to help and inspire others. Write or create a video about your job or your opinions!Contribute
Intersectionality & Empathy
And it really doesn't matter who you are, it's just knowing. That's the thing about intersectionality, it's just about knowing that other people can see you and meet you where you are and understand and empathise with you and just get you.
Sometimes, especially in this post-COVID world, it's just really nice to have someone understand what you are going through or see something from your perspective because they can just see how different parts of you make up who you are, and it's not just one thing.
And that maybe something that makes up who you are, that they can connect with and they are able to just help you out and cheer you on. That's really cool.
But yeah, I hope this video has been helpful.
If you want other cool articles or videos, head on over to the Nurses.co.uk website. They have hundreds and thousands of other articles and videos about different topics to do with nursing and midwifery, and they also have hundreds of job adverts for nurses and midwives on their website too. So, make sure you go check that out.