Prabhleen sets her sights on breaking down language barriers for Leicester’s new mums
As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the National Health Service, here we take a look at a story from Prabhleen Mann, who qualified in 2022 as a midwife from the University of Leicester.
Imagine entering a maternity ward, in labour for the first time in your life and not knowing what to expect or being able to ask anybody questions about the birth.
That can be the common and frightening experience for mums in Leicester, who have limited knowledge of English, or none whatsoever.
Prabhleen Mann is a newly qualified midwife with University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and is on a mission to help those mums.
And, after earning a new midwifery qualification at the University of Leicester, the trailblazing MSci Midwifery with Leadership course which gives her a greater and swifter chance to progress her career, she’s on course to achieve her dream.
Prabhleen said: “My mum said that when she came to this country from the Punjab, she had such a nice experience when she gave birth to me and my three siblings. She was looked after so well by wonderful staff, but because she didn’t speak English, even she faced problems.
“After giving birth to my older brother, mum experienced postpartum psychosis, which can affect a mother’s attachment to their baby. She would be looking in the cot and see my brother lying there, smiling. She’d look away, then when she looked back he wasn’t there – she thought he was just a pillowcase. As you can imagine that can be a very frightening experience, and because of the language barrier she didn’t have an understanding of what was going on.
“So many other people haven’t had the best experiences, because of the language barrier, too, and this is something that I’m determined to try and address in Leicester.
“It’s such a diverse city and because I speak English, Punjabi and Hindi, I feel I can help so many mothers. I was on placement at Leicester General Hospital and Hindi was the prominent language with those new mums.
“Their eyes would light up when I spoke to them in Hindi and they were able to ask me all the questions that were bothering them, and were much more comfortable and appreciative at what can be an uncertain time when mental health can suffer.
“The course has equipped me to move on from being a newly qualified midwife to a more senior position further down the road, without the need for more studying. If I had taken a traditional three year degree and then wanted to progress a few years later, I would have had to go back to education, which I might be reluctant to do.
“One of the really different things about the course is that you get to work in organisations alongside those in leadership roles. I worked with The Royal College of Midwives Bangladesh twinning project team as part of the course, and it gave me the insight into leadership in the workplace and also allowed me to apply the leadership skills I was learning in a real-world setting. It gave me so much confidence and drive to know I can make a difference.
“Whatever happens, I would like to stay in the clinical field, perhaps progress to ward manager, but my real passion is to help those women with limited English. My dream is to set up ante natal classes for them, where we can discuss pain relief, make them as prepared as possible, so they aren’t then going into labour full of questions. This should improve their overall childbirth experience and ultimately better birth outcomes for this group of women and their babies.”