The Single Parent Award for Resilience and Knowledge (SPARK) recognizes the challenges and dreams of single parents who want to further their education and provide more opportunities for their families but are facing financial adversity. Today, we chat with Avital Kline, a SPARK student studying Midwifery at UBC. Click here to see a day-in-the-life of Avital.
Avital is a student from the 2021 Cohort of the Single Parent Award for Resilience and Knowledge (SPARK) program. Studying Midwifery at the University of British Columbia, Avital takes us through their day-to-day while educating us on what midwifery is all about.
AVITAL KLINE—I’m currently in my 2nd year of the 4 year Midwifery Program at UBC. I’m the primary parent of three sons, who are aged 15, 12 and 5 years old. To say that my life is busy is an understatement! I rely heavily on coffee to make it through many of my days, especially a good mocha (I’m looking at you JJ Bean). There isn’t a lot of down time these days, but my kids and I love to go the beach, and I have said many times that if I have a coffee and a glimpse of the ocean, I can get through anything.
Let’s Talk About Midwifery.
What is Midwifery? Did you have a moment that you realized, “Aha! This is it”?
Midwives are primary maternity care providers in BC who are essentially specialists in normal, healthy pregnancies and birth. Midwives are covered under MSP and have a model of care that prioritizes continuity – meaning that we provide the prenatal care, deliver the baby and provide care to the birthing parent and their baby for 6 weeks postpartum. We get to provide our clients with longer prenatal appointments, and home visits after they have their babies. We get know our clients well and have the time to build rapport and trust in a very unique way.
My grandmother was a labour and delivery nurse and my mom was a birth doula, so I feel like birth work runs in my DNA. There was no defining moment for when I knew I wanted to be a midwife – I just can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. It has taken some time to get my life to the place where I could apply to the program and manage the intensity of practicums while parenting – and the support of the Beedie Luminary family has been crucial to my success! To me, midwifery is more than a career, it feels like a calling, and every time I work with a new family or participate in the birth of a baby, I have my “aha!” moment – there is nothing else I would rather be doing. It’s challenging and changing and fulfilling in all the right ways for me.
What is something people assume about this program and can you speak to it?
Most people think that midwifery means hanging out with babies all day, and while I do get to see babies, our clients are in care for 9 months of pregnancy, and only 6 weeks after they have their babies, so the majority of our care is for the pregnant person. So many changes occur in pregnancy, and people have lots of questions and concerns.
The midwifery model of care enables us to spend time answering their questions, easing anxiety and providing educational or community support resources in order to set them up for a positive birthing and postpartum experience. I find this part of the work just as rewarding and interesting as the birth and babies. It’s really special to be able to get to know your clients well over the course of their pregnancy and then get to be there with them when they are birthing their babies. I’m also very nerdy, and I love the clinical aspects of care, ordering and interpreting labs and tests and providing clients with information in order to make the best medical choices for their situation. The continuity of care that midwives provide translates into good health outcomes both for the baby and the birthing person, and families are very satisfied with their experience.
“…Every time I… participate in the birth of a baby, I have my ‘aha!’ moment.”
Do you have any advice for single parents looking to apply to SPARK?
Pursuing post-secondary education while solo parenting comes with a lot of challenges. We often have more on our “plates” than our childless or partnered classmates, and the financial pressures of solo parenting are exacerbated while in school. The SPARK award obviously decreases financial barriers to accessing education, but the support provided by the Luminary community has been an unexpected and immensely valuable part of my success. When receiving a SPARK award, you will be welcomed into a community of peers who understand our unique challenges, and you can access the support of incredible coaches and mentors.
What about advice for those who want to get into midwifery?
For folks interested in midwifery as a career, I can say that this is a really exciting time for the profession. UBC midwifery is the only midwifery program in BC and the program is expanding – I just had the very special opportunity to be present at the BC Government’s announcement that they are adding 20 seats to the program.
A few students, including myself, were able to talk with Ministers Adrian Dix and Selina Robinsin and MLA Jennifer Rice to share our experiences and hopes for the program and for midwifery in BC. We were able to talk about the unique ability of midwives to address gaps in our health care system and the need for the government to remove restrictions on practice so that we can better serve more clients, especially in rural and remote areas. The demand for midwives is growing, and there are going to be some really interesting and exciting opportunities in the coming years.
Applications for the 2023 cohort of the SPARK Program will open on March 21st at 9am (PST).
Learn more about SPARK today.