There's a huge and complex need right here!

28 June 2016
Midwife, Briony Raven
Midwife Briony Raven

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 Briony Raven, a midwife with Counties Manukau District Health Board, who sees the reality of obesity on a daily basis.

The shocking reality of poor health in Africa and a world away in South Auckland has inspired in midwife Briony Raven a passion to make a real and lasting difference in healthcare.

Briony comes from a long line of midwives with her mother and grandmother both practising, but the 30-year-old only began her training after living in Africa for a year in her twenties. 

“Living in Africa, I realised that I needed a practical skill to really be able to help people!  I was so shocked by the how people were living, but when several friends died because of their lack of access to quality healthcare I decided to act.”

Briony trained as a midwife and now works for Counties Manukau DHB providing both primary and tertiary midwifery services. 

Despite being a world away from Africa, the health needs she has witnessed in South Auckland have shocked her. 

“There is a huge and complex need right here in South Auckland and it’s quite shocking.  The social issues that people are facing on a daily basis really affect their health,” she says.

Briony says obesity is a significant issue and she works with pregnant women on a daily basis who have BMIs over 30, 40 or 50. 

Wanting to do more to help these women, Briony completed the Healthy Start Workforce project’s online education course on nutrition and physical activity in pregnancy and early life.

She says the course highlighted the significance of lifestyle factors in the early years.

“The course was so relevant to what I was doing every day.  It really stressed the importance of diet and exercise for me and how this is the root of so many problems that my women encounter later in life.  In the past, I thought eating well in pregnancy was a ‘nice to have’, now I realise it can make a massive difference to the future health of the unborn baby,” Briony says.

Briony says the course helped her realise that there was a potential solution to the health problems she was seeing every day.  It inspired her to want to be more effective in talking about lifestyle behaviour change with clients.

So she did the Healthy Start Workforce Project’s Healthy Conversation Skills workshop.

“The course is solutions-based and gives you real world tools to help women and I really think they work!  I no longer take on the role of the expert, I work with women and the whole family to identify the problem and the solution.”

Briony says both courses have helped change the way she works with women for the better.

Find out more about the Healthy Start Workforce Project's courses here.