Giving birth is hard enough… but what if you’re deaf? Salford midwife’s pioneering project scoops accolade

A midwifery trainee from the University of Salford is celebrating again after securing her second national accolade of 2014.

Paulina Ewa Sporek, from Walkden, has been named as Student Midwife of the Year, as well as recognition from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) for her project dedicated to helping deaf women through pregnancy.

The 27-year-old moved to England seven years ago after training as a paramedic in her native Poland.

Since sitting her GCSE’s and A Levels in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths in Manchester, Paulina chose to pursue a career in midwifery and is currently in her second year of a three-year course at university.

After working closely with deaf people during her time as a paramedic, Paulina quickly noticed a lack of support on offer to pregnant deaf women in the UK.

Paulina, who has been a regular at various midwifery-led wards at Bolton Royal hospital during her training, consequently created the pioneering initiative, Deaf Nest.

Following an online application, the project was shortlisted by experts from the Royal College of Midwives, who were keen to find out more about Paulina’s idea.

During a 20-minute presentation, judges were impressed with the cost-effectiveness of Deaf Nest, which uses leaflets, visual aids, quick reference diagrams, flash cards and videos presented in British Sign Language to better equip both healthcare professionals and deaf pregnant women.

The materials will be made available on a website which is currently under development, along with a 15-minute documentary that has been produced with fellow University of Salford student, Lukas Ziabka, 27.

She was duly crowned with a Royal College of Midwives award during a ceremony in London earlier this month, and by doing so, became the first student to win an award of its kind in its 14-year history.

Paulina said: “I really didn’t expect to win the award – I was surprised but honoured that the judges have rewarded my idea.

“They told me they were impressed with how unique it was, and that they themselves had recognised the lack of help for deaf women in pregnancy.”

The celebrations, however, have not stopped there.

On the back of the award, Paulina has also been crowned as Student Midwife of the Year at the British Journal of Midwifery Practice awards after her work on Deaf Nest and for other contributions towards the midwifery profession.

She added: “I love what I do – when I get up in the morning, it doesn’t feel like I’m going to ‘work’ at all.

“It is such a privilege to help families through such a massive life moment that can often seem intimidating, and be part of that life-changing experience that will be remembered forever.

“I would like to thank my biggest supporter, my partner Luis, without whom neither of these awards would have been possible.”

The new website is set to be launched at the end of this month.

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