Women’s Health Week

RANZCOG is proud to support Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week.


The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

5 September 2022

RANZCOG is proud to support Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week.

The theme this year is ‘It’s all about you’. The not-for-profit organisation is asking:

– How do you look after yourself?

– How do you put yourself first?

– Why is your health and wellbeing important to you?

RANZCOG has sought the views of several of our members and we asked – How do you look after yourself?

Dr Narena Dudley

‘Wife, Mother, ObGyn, Bodybuilder – your greatest strength of character shows when you are able to help someone else while going through your own storm’

This is the bio for Narena’s Instagram page and is a good indication to her approach to life.

‘I try very hard to get a good work-life balance. This was difficult as a Resident Medical Officer with long hours and a young family and still hard as a junior consultant with the extra stress of increased responsibilities that come with that role,” Narena, who is based in Hamilton, New Zealand, says. “But by setting goals outside of medicine, and learning to be better at drawing the line of what I time I can give to work-related activities and what I cannot (when asked to do extra), has become easier. I make sure I get regular exercise for the positive endorphins and stress-relief you get as a result, and enough sleep. I also enjoy having a laugh with friends and colleagues.”

Narena says bodybuilding plays a big role in her life. ‘It is very rewarding to see progress in strength and symmetry – that you can only achieve with consistent effort,’ she says. ‘It is easy as a doctor and a parent to always be doing something for someone else and have the whole day gone. Until you plan and set your own goals, you often get busy with all sorts of activities and don’t make the time or have the energy to stop and do what you want to achieve.’

Narena says her health is important to her because ‘as medical practitioners, we are all too aware of the importance of health and its effect on our own physical and mental well-being. When we don’t eat properly, rest properly, exercise regularly – it affects our mood, our enthusiasm at work and at home, and our perceptions of ourselves and how we are doing,’ she says. ‘You have to look after yourself first so you can do and be the best for those around you.’

Maheshie Jayawickrama

Maheshie has worked at the College for more than three and a half years, and is the Project Lead, Advocacy for RANZCOG. She lives in Melbourne.

‘I go for regular walks to get fresh air and to keep me physically fit,’ Maheshie says when asked how she looks after herself. ‘I also love meditating, to keep my mind healthy. I also set aside time to do things I love – my hobbies: cooking, listening to music and enjoying time with my family.’

So how does she put herself first? ‘I give myself time to switch off, relax, heal and recover from worries, stresses or routines, whenever it is possible.’

Maheshie makes a point of looking after herself because ‘being a mum, a wife, a daughter, and a sister…my health affects everyone around me, especially my family. I won’t be able to wear the many hats that I’ve got, if I am sick.’

Anna McBean

A consumer representative on RANZCOG’s Consumer Network Working Group and Informed Birth Working Group, Anna is also a lawyer. Her family includes her husband, 8-month-old baby girl and a furbaby cavoodle.

With all that on her plate, how does she look after herself?

‘I am a big fan of exercising to de-stress,’ Anna says. ‘Sometimes that looks like a crazy spin class (if I need to work out some frustration!) or it can be a quick 10-minute stretch before bed to unwind. I am also a very social person so try to make sure I pencil in time with friends and family regularly. Exercising while socialising is an absolute win in my book!’

Anna designates one hour a day to herself. ‘It can be getting up an hour before the rest of my family in the morning, escaping for a bath when my baby is down for the night, or ducking out for a walk by myself. Having the space and time to invest in myself is really important to me.’

She does this because she believes it is beneficial in the long run. ‘I want to live life to the fullest right to the end. I think having a healthy mind and body will help me to achieve that goal.’

‘Being present and available for my loved ones is a top priority for me,’ Anna adds. ‘I know that I can’t give energy that I don’t have, so looking after myself helps me to be there for them when they need me. Anyone who has flown in a plane knows that you need to ‘put on your own oxygen mask before helping others’.’

Picture below (L-R): Dr Narena Dudley, Maheshie Jayawickrama, Anna McBean



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