Shropshire-raised author shares her incredible experiences as a frontline midwife

She's worked in war-zones across the globe, in tropical storms, surrounded by land mines and red cobras. Now Anna Kent shares her remarkable experiences in her new book.

Anna. Photo by Tamas Markos
Anna. Photo by Tamas Markos

Anna is a humanitarian aid worker, an NHS nurse and midwife who has cared for some of the most vulnerable women in the most vulnerable places in the world.

Originally from Hinstock in Shropshire, Anna has been responsible for the female health of 30,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and worked alongside NHS staff during Covid.

Now, she has shared her story in her new book- Frontline Midwife: My Story of Survival and Keeping Others Safe - in order to memorialise the lives of women she has looked after.

The 41-year-old mother-of-one who now lives in Weymouth, Dorset, said: "Everyone deserves access to healthcare no matter where they are. I was deeply affected by Live Aid as a child and the images of starving children."

Anna working abroad as a humanitarian aid worker

Hinstock, near to Market Drayton, is mentioned a number of times throughout the book as Anna frequently came back to the county to live with her parents while undergoing training.

As a former pupil at The Grove School in Market Drayton, Anna noted how immersing herself in nature, particularly in Shropshire, has helped her to practice mindfulness and remaining calm in stressful situations throughout her work.

Anna with her new book Frontline Midwife

After completing a diploma in tropical nursing, Anna joined Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in 2007, when she flew out to South Sudan to work as an outreach nurse.

"I went to South Sudan as a trained nurse," she said. "I was an outreach nurse, in a place that had seen 50 years of civil war, covering a geographical area of Belgium."

Before touching the ground, Anna had her first 'wake-up call' of just how scary war zones can be for women, when she cared for a patient on her flight who had no access to a midwife and whose baby had died inside her.

During her time as a nurse she witnessed one woman who had walked for nine days to reach the centre where Anna was based – having no access to a midwife closer to where she lived – and Anna said she was at a dangerous point in labour.

Anna with baby Moses

At that point, a tropical storm broke out while Anna sprung into action to deliver baby Moses by the light of a headtorch, battling through horrendous weather conditions. It was this experience that inspired her to become a midwife.

Once a trained midwife, Anna went out to Haiti in 2010 and also Bangladesh, where she was responsible for women's health in a refugee camp, caring for those who had become stateless – not under a country's protection.

"I have never seen suffering on that scale before," she said.

"Women, from what I have seen, seem to be at the bottom of the pile – they don't have the ability to speak out."

Talking about the why she decided to document her experiences, Anna said that sometimes her role as a healthcare professional is to see the atrocities and speak out against them.

Writing has become a form of therapy for Anna who, after retiring from the frontline work, sought help to deal with her PTSD and emotional trauma which she said has given her freedom and a real sense of power.

Her story is laced with personal tragedy too, after having a miscarriage on her wedding day and giving birth to another daughter who sadly died of a brain tumour around six years ago.

Frontline Midwife by author Anna Kent

In more recent yearsm Anna has worked alongside NHS staff during the pandemic, which she said posed a particular challenge for her as a mother as she did not want her duties as nurse to harm her three-year-old daughter Aisha.

"Looking back, I am proud I stepped up and did it, but it was a really difficult time," Anna said, noting how the nation will be experiencing the impact of the pandemic on our mental health for a long time to come.

Frontline Midwife has been published by Bloomsbury and is available to buy from Google Books, Amazon and Waterstones.

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