What has been your most memorable moment during your career in midwifery?
I have been a practising midwife for almost 30 years so I could not identify a single most memorable moment. I have had a long career of providing care to women and their families at a very special time in their lives, but during pregnancy, labour and birth women are also vulnerable and I regard it as my role to make women feel safe and cared for and to make their childbearing journey a special time. During my career I have seen midwifery evolve from being quite obstetric led to more focused on normality and the role of the midwife has been expanded which is wonderful. Midwives now routinely assist women to give birth in water and this is a magical birth to observe. Midwives can be the lead professional for low risk women from booking through to post-natal discharge and it is extremely rewarding to be able to care for women and their families in this way.
What do you value most about midwifery?
For me the most valuable thing about midwifery is about being ‘with women’-this is what ‘midwife’ means.
At times our role can bring us in contact with families' at the most joyful time of their lives, but for some families we are also there to support them at the most devastating time when hopes and dreams are shattered.
I also value the camaraderie and support of my friends and colleagues in the midwifery family- we all need to support each other at times as our job is an extremely stressful and pressurised one.
What motivates you to stay in this area of midwifery practice?
Every day is a ‘school day’ in midwifery. We are in a profession where learning is life long. Like most of my colleagues I have done a lot of additional study at Queen’s University and the Clinical Education Centre during my years of practice. It is this desire to keep learning and keep getting better that keeps me doing what I do. As an experienced Midwifery Sister I also get a great deal of satisfaction from nurturing junior staff and watching them flourish. I also enjoy teaching midwifery students - they are the midwives of tomorrow.
What would you say to someone considering a career in midwifery.
Don’t come into midwifery wearing rose tinted glasses. It is a wonderful profession but also a very demanding one. Midwifery is a lot more than a job, it is a vocation. You need to be prepared to work all hours of the day 365 days of the year. A lot of your time will be spent working unsocial hours when your friends and family are off at holiday times. The stresses within the profession are increasing all the time as women are presenting with more and more complex health care needs and the public’s expectation of health care is increasing all the time while resources are decreasing. If you want to be ‘with women’ at one of the most exciting and moving times in a woman’s life then maybe midwifery is the career path for you.