Clare Briggs

Midwifery Studies BSc(Hons) - Alumna

Hey there guys! My name is Clare Briggs and I travelled to Ghana in 2018 to complete my placement. Since then I've worked as a rotational midwife and now work as a specialist fertility midwife.

Find out more about how my overseas placement helped influence and shape my career below...

My time at Huddersfield

I got into midwifery thanks to the midwife who looked after me when I had my son. She delivered fantastic care, and that experience inspired me to go into midwifery. I had been thinking about changing my career and heading into healthcare anyway, but that’s what finally tipped the scale.

I ended up studying at the University of Huddersfield because it was close to home, and I had my family so I couldn’t relocate. I’d heard it was a great university for midwifery too, so it was an easy choice. I had a great experience there and made some very close friends who I’m still in contact with, and all the tutors were really supportive throughout.

Based on what I’d heard from other students at other universities, the midwifery training at Huddersfield was incredibly thorough and prepared me for being a midwife in a very practical way. I was really pleased with my choice.

I saw my overseas placement with Work the World (the organisation that helped me plan my placement) as a way to consolidate what I’d learned at university. I took the opportunity while it was in front of me as it wasn’t likely that I’d get another chance to do it.

I wanted to see things from a different perspective and immerse myself in new situations. I understood that the placement would give me the confidence I needed for my first job as a newly qualified midwife.

I love to travel, so I was excited about getting the chance to experience a new culture. I also wanted to challenge myself by working outside of my comfort zone.

Clare Briggs ward

The placement

The decision to travel to Ghana was easy. I had always wanted to visit, and Work the World had an established programme there.

I chose a placement in a small district hospital because I wanted to see how the local staff handled normal pregnancies, labours and births rather than the complications more common in the larger regional hospitals.

Clare Briggs group 1

I was only in Ghana for two weeks, but I really got to know the Ghanaian midwives on the labour ward, and in the antenatal and postnatal clinics. I became a part of the team.

This helped me gain insight into the midwives’ lives and how they practised midwifery. It made a huge difference in my experience as I noticed the differences between midwifery practice in Ghana and the UK from day one.

The most obvious difference was how the lack of resources affected clinical care. For example, there was only one Sonicaid in the whole of the maternity unit. Women had to bring everything they needed for their stay — sheets, antiseptic, and food and drink - they received no pain relief during labour.

Clare Briggs hospital beds 1

There was also less of an emphasis on privacy and informed choice than we are used to in the UK. Partners didn’t accompany women in labour or birth, and monitoring of both women and their babies was limited.

However, there were plenty of similarities too — the midwives' passion for the women they care for, the importance of working as a team, and the concept of free maternity care for women.

Clare Briggs group dinner


I had already graduated at this point. So, when I got back, I started working as a rotational midwife. This was in a different trust from the one I’d trained in.

Other midwives had told me that it was worth starting in a different trust because there’s potential for you to get more from it, in terms of learning new things. No one would know you as a student either, so it means you can start fresh as a professional.

I did some time in the labour ward, postnatal ward and antenatal ward while I was there. It was a big, busy hospital and because I hadn’t trained in that Trust, there was a lot of new information to take on board.

However, in the end the commute was too much for me, so I came back to my local trust after just over a year. Covid-19 hit shortly after that, and although it was a busy Trust to begin with, the pandemic took it to another level.

There's been lots of changes because of Covid-19, such as extra duties and a lot of unknowns. As you might expect, this mainly impacted the mothers. Not being able to have their partners with them when they’re in labour made the process that much more daunting for lots of women.

Having said that, going back to my time overseas with Work the World really did make me feel grateful for the NHS and everything we’re able to offer patients. A trip like that makes you realise how much more prepared we are in the UK.

Clare Briggs hospital beds 2


There weren’t any major emergencies while I was over in Ghana, but they just didn’t have the same resources. They didn’t have Resuscitaires, Theatres or larger teams on-call when needed.

I think getting that perspective in Ghana really helped me when it came to the sudden changes that came with Covid.

My experience in Ghana also helped me realise what women are capable of. I’ll never forget that they were labouring in one room, and when it was time to have the baby they’d get up and walk to the delivery room. They’d then walk back without a fuss shortly after delivery.

I also realised just how much more common intervention is back in the UK. We intervene with the view that it keeps mums and babies safer of course, but it’s also true that intervention sometimes causes more harm than good.

I now work as a fertility midwife. We provide both NHS and private fertility care. Fertility is something I’ve been interested in since I did my placement at a private fertility clinic as a Huddersfield student.

The role is essentially helping to investigate why couples aren’t able to conceive. I take thorough medical histories, order investigations, teach women how to take certain medications, and liaise with some of the bigger units to arrange egg collection and transfers — it’s quite involved. I love the science behind it, but I also love being able to support families as well.

My experiences at Huddersfield and in Ghana were big steps in my journey to get where I am today. I’d encourage anyone undertaking a healthcare degree to experience an overseas placement because it really does open your eyes.

Clare Briggs Team

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