A Nigerian senior lecturer in midwifery made history this week when she became the first midwife in her country to be awarded a doctorate in her subject.
Dr Faith Diorgu is now the most qualified midwife in Nigeria, helping pregnant women in her country through her research.
Her historic and groundbreaking achievement has also been recognised by the country’s professional regulatory body for nurses and midwives – the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN).
In addition, the NMCN’s secretary general, Faruk Umar Abunakar, has written to the University of Chester’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tim Wheeler, to thank the institution for its role in Faith’s achievement.
Faith is currently a senior lecturer in midwifery at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria.
With a vast amount of clinical experience, she currently teaches undergraduate students, as well as supervises research projects and case studies.
She originally completed a Master’s and PhD in Educational Psychology at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria.
However her interest in midwifery practice and education then led her to undertake a second Master’s at the University of Nottingham and then a PhD in Midwifery at the University of Chester, which was partially funded by the University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care.
Her interest in women’s experiences of birthing positions and perineal trauma during childbirth emerged as a result of her work in Nigeria.
She said: “As a midwife, I practiced in a country where birthing position practices and perineal care are not based on best evidence, and little is known as to why this is the case.
“I am interested in raising the profile of midwifery care and research, maternal health and wellbeing, and maintaining perineal care during childbirth.”
Faith hopes that her current research will bring about change in midwifery practice in Nigeria, based on the evidence that would offer women a better childbirth experience.
As a result, Faith has also invented a birthing chair, to facilitate birth in the upright position for African women.
She said: “My work is in the area of evidence based practice and childbirth in Nigeria and Africa as vital in the promotion of women’s autonomy and wellbeing during the birthing process. This is the factor that led to my invention of a birthing chair.”
The chair has been recognised and licenced by the Nigeria Copyright Commission and is currently undergoing patent registration.
Once approved, the chair will support a number of women birthing in various upright positions.
She added: “My PhD has given me the opportunity to improve the quality of my work as a midwife educator and a researcher, championing evidence-based practices in maternity care in Nigeria.
“My studies provided me with many opportunities to undertake collaborative research, and to network nationally and internationally.
“One of the most helpful parts of my PhD was the incorporated element of supervision and feedback that was given throughout by my team of supervisors - Professor Mary Steen, Professor June Keeling and Professor Elizabeth Mason-Whitehead.
“My utmost gratitude goes to them, I could not have wished for a better team and I hope to continue collaborative work with them.
Faith added: “Becoming a Doctor of Midwifery is a dream come true, and l am particularly thankful to the University of Chester for giving me this opportunity.”