We are pleased to introduce Chino Amah-Mbah, The Midwife Center's Social Work intern. We're lucky to have Chino with us for two semesters. Chino just wrapped up her first semester with us, so we thought it would be a perfect time to check in with her about her work so far at The Midwife Center.
1) What led you to your internship at The Midwife Center?
For the Masters in Social Work (MSW) program at the University of Pittsburgh, we are required to have field learning experience while taking classes to integrate theory into practice. The school matches us with field advisors and we work together on finding a placement that best suits us, the students.
I remember talking to my field advisor who asked me what my interests were. I have so many interests because one, I’m indecisive, and two, there’s so much in the world to be interested in. One of the interests I mentioned was women’s health and reproductive health. After our meeting, he sent me a list of three possible places for my field placement and one of them was The Midwife Center (TMC). I hadn’t heard of TMC before. I knew what midwifery was, I had seen the movie “The Business of Being Born”, and in one of my undergraduate courses, we did talk about how the changing scene of birthing in the U.S. in the past couple of decades-from midwives being the birthing professionals and experts to doctors and the medicalization of birth.
All of this piqued my interest in seeing what TMC was all about. I got on the website and read about the programs and services offered. I remember reading the Behavioral Health and Wellness (BH&W) program and the community engagement program and I knew for sure that this would be a great experience to have. TMC definitely aligned with my interest and it was going to be a completely different experience from the other experiences I had because I had not done anything exclusively in perinatal and postpartum health.
2) What do you do here as an intern?
Because my interests are wide, I do a couple of things at TMC. I am working with both the Behavioral Health and Wellness Specialist, Jul Bibro-Ruch, LCSW, RYT and Kandis Mason, Community Engagement Coordinator. I remember Jul using the phrase “reduce stigma and increase access” and I have rolled with that phrase ever since and it has somehow become the underlying theme of my work or internship here at TMC. Some of the ways I’m doing this is by reaching out to new prenatal clients informing them of the BH&W program, reaching out to six-month postpartum clients to let them know about postpartum health and how there is help available both here at TMC and other places should they need it.
I am also going to be reworking some evaluation surveys for the BH&W to include questions on stigma, access to care, and potential sources of barriers that may or could have impacted clients accessing the care they needed.
With Kandis, we are working on identifying communities and organizations that serve diverse populations because we need to talk about the disparity in maternal and infant health and start addressing them. We feel that some education or information about services available, especially at TMC, can be helpful while also getting feedback about what the community needs are and how TMC can provide some of these needs.
Other things I do here at TMC include helping with the Postpartum Support Group (PPSG), shadowing Jul during some of her sessions with clients, and working with Kandis to better modify existing data collection tools and brainstorming community engagement opportunities.
3) What have you enjoyed most about your work at The Midwife Center so far?
I've most enjoyed the Postpartum Support Group (PPSG) group and working with Kandis to revamp the needs assessment. The PPSG is such a safe space and the participants are lovely, warm, and kind. I get to learn a lot from them while also learning from Jul how to facilitate groups. You have to be able to facilitate conversations, be observant, and be a good active listener when working with groups. Working with Kandis on the needs assessment form was great because not only did I get to draw from my public health background, I also learnt more about the resources TMC offered.
4) Outside of your internship at The Midwife Center, what do you enjoy learning about?
I enjoy learning more about myself. I feel self-reflection and introspection is something we should do often. Sometimes it provides clarity, and clarity can mean different things such as identifying things that are of concern to you or what you do well, other times it can mean a better understanding of things. Self-reflection and introspection also helps us realize how much we’ve grown and changed and that can be empowering to realize the changes we’ve undertaken, no matter how small they might seem, and how our lives and where we are, at the present moment, responded to that change. I also enjoy learning more about how I love food. If you ever want to be on my good side, just give me food--good, tasty, delicious food!