“It’s not just about getting through the night”

14 December 2015

In this regular series, we speak with someone who has done the Healthy Start Workforce Project’s programmes to find out how it’s influenced their everyday practice.


Here we speak to Tracy Botica, a hospital midwife at Dunedin Public Hospital, who has done both the Healthy Start Education programme and Healthy Conversation Skills training.


As a hospital midwife, Tracy sees the reality of obesity every day.


“More and more I see people who are facing the challenge of obesity and who find it difficult to establish healthy eating habits.  I was struck by the need to do something differently to help these women and their babies,” she says.


So Tracy enrolled in the Healthy Start Workforce education study day which explores research into the impact of nutrition and exercise in the early years on long-term health.


She says the course dramatically improved her communication with clients.


“The education day really enhanced my understanding so I was able to articulate ideas more clearly and talk to people about why nutrition is so important in the early days.


“What you do with a young baby is not just about ‘getting through the night’ – the decisions you make can affect that baby’s health as an adult,” Tracy says. 


She says the information from the Healthy Start education day fed straight into the Healthy Conversation Skills training.


“The Healthy Conversation Skills training really reinforced for me that people know a lot of stuff about good nutrition but they still don’t make changes so giving them more and more information is just not going to work.”


Tracy says the course has changed the way she works with clients and she now focuses more on client-led solutions rather than providing information.


She mentions a pregnant woman with gestational diabetes.  Tracy was able to talk to the woman about how the things she does now can help to set-up her baby for a healthier life.  She then used Healthy Conversation Skills techniques to help the women identify ways in which she could commit to breastfeeding.


Tracy says she’d recommend both Healthy Start Workforce courses.


“Both these courses have been totally practical and have made me examine what I’m doing and how I could do it differently and more effectively.  And since doing these courses, I think I have been more effective.”