Meet Rachel Fulton, although Rachel always wanted to be a midwife she waited until later in her life to fulfil her dream. However she didn’t sit still in in the meantime. Rachel is currently the matron for midwifery services at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust. Here is her story:
I have always wanted to be a midwife but wanted to experience childbirth personally so that I could relate to the women I would be caring for. I was born in Canterbury, Kent where I lived until I was 15. I am an only child. It wasn’t meant to be that way but my mum endured cervical cancer which resulted in her not being able to have any more children. My dad was a housemaster at Kings School, Canterbury so we lived in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral and I grew up surrounded by boys wearing wing collars and pinstripes. I gradually moved up North via a couple of years in Dallas and 18 months in France when I was 17, where I was a nanny for three French children under the age of 5, none of whom spoke a word of English!
I studied a degree in Psychology and Sociology at Leeds University before moving to Carlisle to be firstly the manager of Past Times and then Customer Service manager at Debenhams. I had my babies – two girls who are now 17 and 15 but will of course, always be my babies. Pregnancy is always life changing, but for me, as well as giving birth to a new life, it was also the birth of my new career. As most women desire, I hoped for a low risk, stress free pregnancy with a pool birth at the end of the nine months. The reality couldn’t have been further from that. I developed pre-eclampsia at 31 weeks and spent the next few weeks visiting the Maternity Day Assessment unit at CIC and ended up being induced at 38 weeks. My birth experience was very medicalised and on paper reads to be quite traumatic. However, the care I received by the midwives throughout, made the experience a positive one. I will never forget the midwife that cared for me in labour. She made such a difference to my birth and my life and made me determined to become that person to other women that she had been to me. I went back to college and completed a Health Studies course and volunteered as a breastfeeding peer supporter. As soon as the University of Cumbria launched the direct entry midwifery course, I applied and got offered a place. I did my three years midwifery training whilst juggling two toddlers and eventually qualified in 2011 with a first class honours degree.
The rest, as they say, is history……..
I started working as a band 5 Midwife at CIC and progressed to a band 6 by the end of my first year. I was soon encouraged by colleagues to apply to be a Band 7 Lead Midwife which combined the clinical midwifery skills with my previous management experience. I took great pleasure in motivating and supporting the staff on shift and ensuring that our women and families receive the highest and safest standard of care. I became the Maternity Ward Manager in 2019 and started becoming a lot more involved in the governance, quality and safety and risk management alongside the pastoral care and support. Last year I became the Matron for Maternity Services at CIC. Although I do try to cover clinically when needed, I miss delivering babies and supporting and empowering women during childbirth. However, I feel now, more than ever, with the support of others, that I can really drive the maternity team to improve themselves, their care and the service. I love the fact that we can make a difference, and we do so every day.
I truly feel that I have found my calling and feel blessed that I have found a job that I find both challenging and so very rewarding. The pace of the job is exciting, nothing is black and white, everything is grey which means there is never a dull moment. Working in such a dynamic environment is both exciting and terrifying, no two days are the same and no two labours are the same. The team I work within are an amazing support to myself and each other and the strength and resilience that they display is inspirational. We share so much…….happiness, sadness, excitement, fear and laughter. The word midwife means ‘with woman’ and I am so proud that I am in a position to support and improve the experience for our women in Cumbria.
If you are interested in joining the Trust you can find out more about career opportunities on our website. Some of the roles similar to Rachel’s currently out to advert include: