Seven years after graduating with a Bachelor of Nursing Science at Nelson Mandela University, Bizana-born Xolani Dlamini (30) will be crossing the same stage to receive his Master of Nursing in Advanced Clinical Midwifery and Neonatal Nursing Science.
Xolani is also about to complete his first article for publication, reporting his master’s findings and preparing for his PhD.
His research focused on the birthing process preparedness of first-time mothers in the public obstetric units of the Nelson Mandela Bay Health District (NMBHD). He found no previous similar study and/or literature with a South African context.
Xolani is an accoucheur (male midwife) who is passionate about midwifery care and lectures midwifery nursing sciences and research at Lilitha Nursing College. He started his master’s programme on a part-time basis while working full-time in a busy maternity ward.
“I have not lifted my foot off the peddle since!. It was a four year roller-coaster, having to overcome endless lists of challenges” he says.
These included having to convince ethics committees as a male researcher in a midwifery domain, finances, changing jobs and balancing the work-life-university triangle. And of course the complications of COVID-19.
His study found that first-time mothers were predominantly fearful of their birthing process experience. First-time mothers further expressed receiving poor information from the midwives at the antenatal care clinics, whereas they applauded the help from women who have previously given birth, their families, WhatsApp groups, Facebook groups, the Mom-connect app and YouTube videos.
The study concluded that there should be formal birthing preparation classes, counselling sessions and detailed information-sharing about birthing process strategies such as videos, mannikins (dolls) and posters.
Xolani says research confirms that poor birthing process preparedness could lead to psychological problems and therefore, for his PhD, he hopes to develop strategies to enhance birthing women’s preparation to be comparable to developed countries such as the USA.
Xolani praised his supervisor Professor Sindiwe James who supported him diligently even after she retired and his former Mandela University Midwifery lecturer, Israel Sonti for his assistance.
He also holds Postgraduate Diplomas in Nursing Education (Stellenbosch University) and Health Service Management (North-West University).
His advice to young nurses is to continuously challenge and develop themselves to keep up with the everchanging world and developments.