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Class of students ;

Alumni journeys: Esther Sharma

Esther Sharma

Midwife, PhD student and King's Alumus

04 May 2020

I started training to be a midwife at King’s in 1996. The Changing Childbirth Report – which sought to describe a modern day maternity service - had not long been published and innovative midwifery practice was just starting to spring up all around.

I was on the three-year diploma course and was extremely fortunate to have world-class midwifery educators as well as placements at major London NHS Trusts (as we know them now).

I particularly enjoyed the breadth of the course, not only learning the essential clinical knowledge and skills but also venturing into sociology and women’s studies. I was one of a small cohort of 18 students, so we all got to know each other incredibly well and our learning was certainly enriched by the immensely diverse backgrounds and perspectives we each brought to the course.

Class of students

Esther (back row, second in from left) and the rest of the Class of '96 cohort 

Following completion of the midwifery diploma in 1996, I then spent an additional year completing a small research project in order to obtain a BSc(hons) in midwifery. Following graduation, I spent 10 years working clinically in a number of NHS Trusts and was fortunate to work in one of the first stand-alone birth centres and later an innovative Sure Start one-to-one caseload team, giving me an excellent grounding in normality as well as the opportunity to practise autonomously.  In this latter role, I became interested in the intersection between midwifery and public health and completed a master’s degree in public health, which then led to taking on some non-clinical roles, including setting up a large NHS breastfeeding support service and working for the charity Best Beginnings.

Two women smiling

Esther (right) with Penny Charles, a lecturer at King's

I also lived and worked in Afghanistan, supporting the midwifery team at a large hospital as well as working alongside a safe motherhood programme. Bringing all this together, I have recently embarked on a PhD, researching the perinatal experiences of Afghan women who are migrating through Western Balkan countries into Europe and maternity service provision for them.  Somewhere along the line, I also got married, and we had our wedding reception at King’s too, which was brilliant!

I could never have imagined all the twists and turns that my midwifery journey has taken, back in 1999, but I certainly wouldn’t have it any other way!– Esther Sharma

One of the highlights of International Day of the Midwife for me is the coming together of midwives from all around the world – hearing of midwifery in contexts that are so varied, as well as raising the profile of midwifery and celebrating who we are together. 

Follow Esther as she continues her journey @maternalmatters

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