A Day in the Life
There is no such thing as a typical day in the life of a midwife!
No two days look the same for our maternity teams, caring for women and families as they experience the life changing journey of bringing life into the world. We asked three of our student midwives to show us what a day in their lives might look like.
Watch the video and find out what they get up to, all in the course of one shift!
Interested in joining our maternity teams here in North Cumbria?
Go straight to meet the midwives
We asked the Mum’s and families across North Cumbria to share with us their ‘Maternity Memories’. These women and families have all welcomed their babies into the world during the daunting and uncertain time of a Global pandemic. We hear the important role their midwife played in supporting them through this unprecedented time.
New mum Emma Penrice, of Workington, said: “Myself and my other half, Jonathan Williams, would like to thank all the midwives and the team who helped bring baby Rory Williams into the world on Saturday, 17th April 2021 at the West Cumberland Hospital.
“For the majority of my care I saw midwife Sarah Hargreaves, both in the community and on the labour ward. It was lovely to have a familiar face helping me through especially at the end when I felt all my energy was depleted.
“Sarah respected how I wanted to give birth and also helped my partner through it all as well.
“We ended up staying in hospital with our new son, Rory, as he needed antibiotics. All the staff have been so helpful in our aftercare.
“All of your help has been so greatly appreciated and I am glad to have the WCH maternity services still available.”
Eilis Lightfoot said: “Hi, I’m Eilis Lightfoot and my partner is Daniel Spires, our baby is called Niah Spires.
“Niah was born on Christmas day 2020 at the West Cumberland Hospital. I cannot thank the team that looked after us enough. Hannah Pullin, our midwife, was absolutely amazing through the whole experience!
“It was a very quick labour, arriving at hospital at 12.30 and having Niah at 2.30 but I was always reassured and everything was amazing on the day!
“As it was Christmas Day, it felt extra special and the staff definitely made it feel that way too. It was a pleasure to have my baby at West Cumberland Hospital.”
Lucy Fitzsimmons and Danny Gee became the proud parents of baby Mariel Gee on December 20th, 2020.
Lucy said: “The care we received before, during and after giving birth to our baby girl was remarkable.
“I would especially like to thank Hannah McGarry. Hannah was absolutely fantastic and gave me so much support whilst I was in labour. I had some complications afterwards, which was pretty scary, but Hannah remained calm and professional throughout.
“All the midwives, doctors and nurses were so kind and caring - I felt very well looked after during my three night stay in hospital. Thank you so much West Cumberland Hospital.”
Rachel Bryant and Craig Graham became the proud parents of twins – Max Joseph and Ember Star at the West Cumberland Hospital on 26th January, 2021.
Rachel said: “We would like to say a massive thank you to all the midwives on Honister Ward, particularly Sarah and Diane, and Alex for support breastfeeding, and Fiona for all the baby cuddles when I needed to sleep and shower!
“Also a huge thanks to the community midwives who, despite wearing heaps of PPE, managed to make me feel very personally cared for, particularly Keeley, who helped me tell the other half it was twins when he didn't believe me!
“They are a great team of ladies working their socks off through some difficult times. Thank you all.”
Kyra Haughan and Adam Carr are now the proud parents of Freddie-James. He was born at the Cumberland Infirmary on April 11th, 2020 at 10.48pm.
Kyra’s sister, Phoebe Haughan, was present at the birth as Adam was shielding due to Covid-19.
Kyra said: “I would like to say the biggest thank you to the maternity ward and delivery. Firstly, for many trips in the last few weeks of pregnancy to maternity.
“The midwives and health care assistants were brilliant, friendly and so understanding of the stresses of being pregnant in a pandemic.
“A special thank you to Jane who went above and beyond to help me while I was struggling with anxiety and secondly, to all on delivery who helped me while I was in labour. Nothing was too much trouble and they were so attentive.
"A huge thank you to Hannah Wallbank who delivered Freddie-James. He snook up on us but you kept me so calm and relaxed. At the end of your shift you came in to see me to say bye and you leant over Freddie’s crib and said: 'I hope you have a lovely life little Freddie.' You really were wonderful.”
Meet the Midwives
We have an excellent team of midwives across the Trust who are on hand to support women and families throughout their pregnancy, during birth as well as postnatally.
We asked a few of our midwives to share their stories with us, how they decided to join the profession and some of the daily challenges they face.
Michelle, 35, is a Community Midwife in Carlisle.
She trained at the University of Cumbria and prior to this completed a Psychology degree at the University of Liverpool.
She said: “I started my training in 2010 and have worked at the Cumberland Infirmary since 2013. I worked for six years on labour ward before moving into the community a few years after having my daughter as the hours were more family friendly for a young child.
“I always wanted to work in healthcare and be a midwife but was encouraged to take the nursing route at school instead of direct entry. I did this for a year but felt I wasn’t ready after school and realised how different the two jobs actually were. I completed a psychology degree and decided to move back home to pursue midwifery.”
As a community midwife, Michelle loves building relationships with women and their families.
She said: “I particularly enjoy antenatal care and helping families prepare for their new baby. I cover a vulnerable area of the town and enjoy the challenges that brings. “It’s always satisfying to see people at home after having their baby when you’ve built up a relationship with them throughout pregnancy. Being at the birth of a baby is always a very special experience.”
Michelle remembers the first birth she ever saw.
She describes what happened: “It was an hour into my first night shift on labour ward and I had no idea what to expect. It was a very emotional delivery and they were thrilled to have a boy after having two girls.
“The first baby I delivered myself was a girl and I was very nervous. I remember all the details even down to the room we were in.”
To be a midwife Michelle thinks you need to be “calm, caring and open minded.”
She said: “It can be a fast paced and stressful job so you need to be able to remain calm and supportive even in emergency situations.
“Organisational skills are key as a community midwife. Teamwork is massively important and there are so many job roles within maternity, each one is important in their own right.”
Ever since she was a little girl, Abbie Stainton had dreamed of working in a hospital and caring for others.
She said: “When I was at school I tailored my subject choices to health and social care and began working part-time in various hospitality sectors, to gain and improve my interpersonal skills.
“Furthering this, I volunteered and undertook work experience in nurseries, breastfeeding support groups and care homes.
“While studying A-levels, I ventured to the Dominican Republic for a three week volunteering placement in one of the state hospitals, where I worked mostly on the women and children’s ward. Here, I discovered my vocation - to provide care and kindness to women and families from all dimensions of society, building relationships and making a positive contribution to lives through support and companionate care.
“This is something I value in my adult life, and for me, defines midwifery and my choice of career. I applied to study midwifery after finishing sixth form and gained a place at the University of Cumbria.”
During Covid-19 Abbie opted for an extended work placement.
She said: “The practical experience was invaluable. It not only enhanced my practice but helped me grow as an adult. I really felt part of the team and my confidence developed greatly.
“Likewise, I have been lucky enough to be part of the first Continuity of Carer team for the Trust and this is something I wish to further in my career as a midwife. Advocating for, and supporting women through one of the most important milestones in life is a real honour.
“North Cumbria maternity service has shaped my future carer and I am forever grateful to the lovely team at NCIC. Midwifery really is my dream job and NCIC has made my dream a reality!”
Laura Anderson qualified as a midwife in September 2020 a three year midwifery degree at the University of Cumbria.
She now works as an Integrated midwife working between Copeland Community Midwives and the labour ward at the West Cumberland Hospital.
She said: “This is to try and achieve more continuity for the women and their families which in turn improves their experiences as well as enables more seamless care.
“I started work in October 2020 and moved out into the community in January 2021. My desire was triggered when I was about seven-years-old. I became fascinated by pregnancy and birth and as I grew up I tailored my studies to a career in midwifery.
“Supporting women is my passion and I feel midwifery complements my caring nature. I applied to local universities to me and was delighted to receive a place at University of Cumbria.”
Laura says she enjoys “supporting and empowering” women and that is a highlight of her job.
She said: “I thrive on ensuring they achieve the birth they want, help them make preferences and allow choice in their birth.
“It is an incredibly special moment for women and their families and being part of that is really special. Bringing new life into the world has, and always will be, a privilege to me. Assisting women while they birth their babies is just an indescribable feeling and one that myself and my colleagues are so lucky to experience.”
Laura still remembers the first time she witnessed a birth.
She said: “I can, and likely always will, remember delivering my first baby – a little boy. He was born around an hour into my shift and I was just completely in awe of what his mum had managed to achieve and I was bursting with pride. It sounds so cheesy to say but it honestly took my breath away in that moment and that’s when I knew it was the job for me.”
Laura says a midwife needs to have empathy, compassion and the ability to adapt to changing situations as midwifery can often be unpredictable.
She said: “Compassion for women and their families is vitally important to help achieve a good birthing experience, thus allowing women to feel as though they are listened to and understood is so important and can make the difference for them.
“I also think it is important to highlight that midwifery can be extremely challenging at times and that not everyone who you meet will have a happy ending, it can be incredibly stressful and sometimes overwhelming.
“I think you need broad shoulders to be able to take the challenges and still provide safe and meaningful care. Although relatively new to the profession, I have found this is something that grows and develops with time.
Jayne completed her nurse training at the University of Northumbria.
She said: “I loved it and those three years were the best. Lots of study and hard work, but also lots of holidays and socialising.
“My final placement was on a gynae ward (Ward 11), which made me want to focus on women’s health. I loved caring for women and still miss the spectrum of age you encounter in nursing. Luckily a job became available on Ward 11 and at the age of 22, I got my first job as a nurse
“Six months later - and still thinking academically - I thought then was the time to continue my study and apply to do a degree.
“I was already a nurse and wanted to do something women orientated so came home one night and told my parents that I wanted to be a midwife. I applied and was accepted, so started my 18 month degree course nine months later.
“I found the course difficult as there was so much to learn in practice in 18 months, but qualified from the RVI in Newcastle and took a first post in Sunderland. I worked in Sunderland for six years and for four of those years I was a team midwife, responsible for antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care. I loved that time of my career but left to return nearer home, to get married.
“I then worked at the RVI for four years on the labour ward and obtained lots of high risk experience.
“As I live closer to Carlisle, I regularly watched for jobs to come up here and then in 2007 moved to my forever job as a midwife at the Cumberland Infirmary. I have a great family of colleagues and don’t ever regret my career choice.”
Liz went to university in Dundee and achieved a degree in Pharmacology.
She said: “As the end of my degree approached I realised I’d rather work in a health care setting than a laboratory, and midwifery seemed like a good idea.
“I started my training in 2002 at the University of Nottingham before completing the course at University College Chester. I did my practice placements at Arrowe Park hospital on the Wirral and worked there for a year before joining the team at CIC in 2006.
“Arrowe Park is a large teaching hospital with a tertiary neonatal centre and as such received, and retained, a lot of women with complicated or preterm pregnancies.
"When I came to CIC I found a much smaller, friendlier unit with a lot more emphasis on midwifery led care, I was excited to learn about water birth as this was something I’d never witnessed before! We still care for women with complicated pregnancies here of course, but the management is a little different due to the service infrastructure.
“I enjoy facilitating birth and supporting mums and dads in their transition to parenthood, it is a very special time in anyone’s life and a privilege to be part of. It sounds like a cliché, but the people I work with are more than just colleagues, they are my friends and really are like a second family.”
Rhiann said: “When I left sixth form I became a health care assistant on the bank, then secured a job in phlebotomy for 18 months before going to university to train to be a midwife.
“I always knew I wanted to be involved in healthcare, then while family members and friends fell pregnant and had babies, I felt empowered listening to their stories and felt excited that I could go into a profession that could make a difference to a woman’s story.
“This led me down the path of researching what a midwife does, and how they impact on care of woman and their families and knew I could find self-satisfaction as well as empowering women through a life changing time.
“After moving away to do my training I have moved back home and began a new chapter by starting at CIC and immediately felt welcome and part of the family.”
Sheryl studied midwifery at the University of Cumbria.
She said: “In my first year of university, it was picked up I was dyslexic. I found this diagnosis difficult to accept and I worried that it would hinder my ability to be a midwife. In reality it pushed me to strive for more, a common trait for those with dyslexia. It is surprising how many people working within healthcare actually have dyslexia. The diagnosis has actually helped me learn more about myself and as a midwife, it has helped me adapt to different students learning needs.
“During my final year as a student my mum was diagnosed terminally ill. This pushed me further to achieving my goals, I knew I had to make her proud. I sadly lost my mum a month after I qualified and although she never got to attend my graduation, she knew I achieved my goal and secured my first job as a midwife. Then life as a newly qualified midwife started.
"Having trained at Carlisle I wanted to gain further experience and felt this would be best achieved by spending time in another unit so I threw myself into working at the RVI in Newcastle. This is a large tertiary unit where many high-risk pregnancies from north Cumbria are referred to. I spent the first two years of my midwifery life gaining as much knowledge and confidence as possible as I knew this would only make me a better midwife. Despite loving my time at the RVI, after two years of travelling back and forth I realised that it was time to return home to working in Carlisle.
“Over the last six years working as a midwife, I have developed a passion for supporting women and their families who experience pregnancy loss. Perhaps this stems from losing my mum and appreciating just how invaluable end of life care is. To ensure I am providing the best care possible I have undertaken additional training through SANDS (a still birth and neonatal death charity) and Beyond Bea and I have recently joined our pregnancy loss champions team.
“This team develops both midwives and maternity support workers skills in bereavement care. Although there is a multidisciplinary approach to perinatal bereavement a midwife will usually provide the most care for bereaved parents.
“During these times it is vital that we skilfully and compassionately meet the considerable physical, emotional and psychological individual needs. You become a midwife because you want to facilitate life and be part of the experience of birth. But when the birth has a sad outcome we have just as much impact if done well.
“If I can make the process even slightly more bearable for families then I know I have done my job well. So many people feel uncomfortable talking about bereavement but it is important that families recognise that they don’t need to suffer in silence and they are still provided with opportunities to make memories with their baby. To be allowed to be part of these times I will forever be grateful for.
“It is such a powerful experience to see how strong women are. Women are so brave, inspiring and to form a connection and find ways to support them is something special. Being a midwife is about education, empowerment, giving women options and informed choices. I forever feel honoured to walk alongside families as they trust me with their care. Life as a midwife can be incredibly stressful but it is unbelievably rewarding and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else."