Recently I met Megan Benn – a registered nurse and midwife and mom of two. She is the founder of Motherhood Matters, a postnatal practice that offers home visits to mothers and new babies and believes that individualized care in the comfort of your home leads to higher breastfeeding success rates and fewer postnatal complications for mom and baby. I thought it was an amazing service for new moms that some of my readers might like to learn about and that it tied in nicely with my Women at Work series so I asked her to answer a few of my questions to find out more about her career path and what being a Nurse and Midwife entails!
When did you know this is what you wanted to do?
From early on in high school I wanted to work in health care and medicine. I thought I wanted to be a Doctor but did a nursing work shadow at Victoria Hospital in Wynberg when I was in Std 9 (Grade 11) and I realised that being a nurse allowed you to work in a huge variety of areas, and it also didn’t take as long to study!
What did you study – was it in this field or something different?
I had always wanted to go to university, so I decided to do a nursing degree, Bachelor of Nursing, at UCT which was a four year degree which included general nursing, community nursing, psychiatric nursing and midwifery. I qualified as a Registered nurse and midwife. I later went back to university part-time and did a postgraduate diploma in Human Resource Management.
What was your first job in the industry? and what path has your career taken since?
My first job was at Greys Hopsital in Pietermaritzburg. I then went overseas and worked in hospitals in the UK for two years, did agency work on my return, before eventually leaving nursing to study HR. I then worked for a few years in human resources as a Medical Recruitment consultant for the UK and the Middle East. I was retrenched when I was pregnant with my first child, and this turned out to be a huge blessing as it allowed me to be a stay at home mom for a few years – doing odd work in recruitment from home. When I realised it was time to start working again, I had a career crisis, as I did not want to go back to full time office work in HR, and did not want to go back to nursing in a hospital either. I wondered if I should study further, but then a good friend suggested I focus on the parts of my work that I enjoyed and that I was good at.
I had always loved working in maternity with moms and newborns, and as a mom with small children I identified that their was a huge lack of care and support for new mothers once discharged from hospital. I wanted to start a postnatal practice which offered moms support at home and after doing some research and getting the support of a few clinics and an obstetrician, I understood what kind of service was needed. I then focused on doing update courses in breastfeeding, postnatal depression, baby development etc and working in a clinic setting until I felt confident to start my own practice, Motherhood Matters. I also had to make sure I had the necessary business structure and marketing plan in place before I actually started seeing clients. I am joined in my practice by Tanya Moffat who is also a registered nurse and midwife, and more recently Lynn Keck, who in addtion to being a registered nurse and midwife, is also a Lactation consultant and an infant massage instructor.
What have been the highlights?
Seeing how the business has grown mostly through word of mouth over the last 18 months to now be able to accommodate 3 midwives and getting feedback from the mothers on how they have benefitted from our services.
What’s the best part of your job?
Meeting new moms at their most vulnerable and seeing how their confidence in themselves as mothers grow with a little extra care and support. And of course, meeting so many beautiful new babies on a daily basis and being involved in their care.
What is the most challenging part?
The marketing of our business especially in getting to meet obstetricians to tell them about our service. We battle to get appointments and we find a few do not see the value of what we are trying to do.
What is your typical day, or maybe week if days are very different?
I work mornings only as my children are still young so I try to do a maximum of 2 (but sometimes 3) home visits in a day. Each day is different as we have some booked clients which I allocate to the 3 of us but sometimes we get “crisis” calls which we then have to try and fit in. Other days are quiet as we are still a growing business, which we then use to market, catch up on admin etc. I also do talks at antenatal classes and are sometimes asked to give talks to moms groups. So a very varied week!
What are the “secrets” to your success?
I do not yet classify myself as being successful as my business is still growing but I hope that our hardwork and passion for what we are doing will result in Motherhood Matters getting busier and busier.
As a mom how do you get the balance in your life right? Your tips and tricks? (eg. hobbies, famliy, career, exercise etc)
I’m not sure that I always get it right! But I try to be involved with my kids in the afternoons and my husband and I have had a arrangement for a few years where Saturday mornings (when I’m not working) are my time for myself – I visit friends, go shopping, enjoy time on my own and Saturday afternoon are his to go cycling or watch rugby! Sundays are family days where we do something together as a family.
What do you do for fun in your down time?
I did adult ballet classes for 2 years but recently stopped – next year I’ll be joining the gym!
What do you still want to achieve for your career?
I would like to see home based support being something that every new mother routinely receives and eventually grow the business so there is a large group of midwives working for and with me. We are already expanding our services to include home visits offering moms advice on weaning and routines so there are exciting things planned for 2013.
Thanks so much Megan for such an informative interview – I really love the concept behind your business and think it is such a great service that new moms need to know about!! Good luck with all your plans to grow Motherhood Matters in 2013!