Dentistry and parenthood – ‘listen to your body and your mind’

Robiha Nazir

Robiha Nazir talks about the challenges of taking on parenthood while juggling a career in dentistry and offers her top tips for balancing both.

Tell us a little about your journey into dentistry

I started off as a dental nurse on a Saturday when I was 16 years old. I wanted to go on to do dentistry at university but because I fell short of the required grades, I took a different path and ended up becoming a dental hygienist.

I’ve been one of (a few or many) to have been well supported in my career with nursing assistance and progressive principal dentists that have helped me to always be in high end practices with the newest technology.

This became a big thing for me. I recognised early on that the practice set up as well as the team support was crucial to being the best and having high standards of myself as well as providing high care for our patients.

Did you consciously wait until you had reached a certain place in your career to then decide to have a child?

I fell pregnant quite quickly after getting married and found myself in a whirlwind situation as I fought to be in a marriage of my choice and lived between Manchester and London at that time.

I was overwhelmed with excitement to be having a baby. I’d always wanted to be a young mum but didn’t realise what I was getting myself into.

Looking back now, I wish I had planned it. I was still only a year out of university and my career was only just starting to take shape.

Some days I feel the fear of missing out (FOMO) and with each day I know we all have our own journey and will reach our full potentials in our own time.

How long after having your child did you return to work?

Going back to work was something I was discouraged against and when my first born turned 2.5 years old, I made a conscious decision to return to what I knew was a big part of me.

Being a mum was a dream come true but I didn’t want to give up one thing for another. I wanted the best of both worlds and it was hard.

I’m so glad I did it.

I think having that time at home with my daughter was special. But what really helped me to be my best was also doing all the other things that complete me.

Do you experience any work/family conflict and if so – what are your solutions?

Being a woman, in our culture, it means the responsibility of the home and children fall on me.

Finding solutions means reaching out to childminders and friends for support. It also means working into the night, which I never thought I’d do and now having a job where I can work from home, I love it.

Who in your family takes responsibility for domestic tasks eg caregiving and housework? If women – do you think this is disproportionate? Do you feel women may sometimes accept this disproportion because it’s more ‘traditional’?

Traditionally it is the woman that takes care of domestic tasks. I have voiced myself time and time again in our family and within my marriage about the caregiving and housework being more equally distributed.

This helps to reduce stress, burnout, frustration and all the many things that come from one person taking on too much due to the way things have always been done.

There needs to be more understanding within families and couples to offload the burden and responsibility to allow each person to then be able to give more of themselves.

Have you ever experienced stress, guilt or burnout since becoming a mother and returning to work?

I have to say, with time, I have learnt to juggle really well. Although I feel more content and balanced, there are days when I find myself questioning my choices, feeling burnout and stressed.

I’m really blessed to be working for such an incredible company and to love what I do. I truly do not remember the last time I felt so happy in all areas of my life.

Any advice for other working women who are considering having a family/are struggling with finding the right balance for them?

The emotions that come with a big change are inevitable.

Learning coping strategies, having a tribe to turn to and leaning on those closest to you are all the things we need to reach out for.

Coping mechanisms

I learnt mine through books and through different counselling styles.

There are so many books out there, we have our very own positive psychologist, Mahrukh Kwaja, and many other resources to help us.

Most importantly, learn from each other and those who have or are in a similar situation to you may be happy to have a partner in crime.

Your tribe

The saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is really not far from the truth.

I did it alone the first time and to now know what it feels like to have support, it’s a completely different experience.

Finding a balance will take time and possibly a few trials before you find something that suits you.

Listen to your body and your mind. We no longer live in a world where it’s either one thing or the other. To be able to achieve and feel fulfilled, it means we need to be more mindful of our choices and be selfish.

This is something that has taken me years to learn and is totally against my character but has been the best thing because I am a mum and I am also me!

Do you!

Everyone loves to give advice, take as much or as little of it and do what feels right for you.

Read more in our Celebrating Women in Dentistry series here:

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