Today (5 May) marks International Day of the Midwife, which celebrates the difference midwives make to women around the globe every single day. Two ESNEFT midwives have shared their stories.
Ali Pastor Palomares
Working as a midwife in the UK isn’t just about supporting someone in labour. The role requires many skills, caring for women through their pregnancy, during birth and in the first few days after labour both in hospital and in the community.
It’s the range of environments and the different skills needed that international midwife Ali Pastor Palomares says makes working in the UK so interesting.
Ali, 28, trained as a nurse in Valencia, Spain before leaving her family and friends to move to Ireland five years ago. Having an interest in midwifery, she retrained in 2018 before moving to Colchester Hospital at the beginning of this year.
Ali said: “There’s so many opportunities in the UK. As part of my job I’ll work in the midwife-led unit, obstetrics, on the delivery suite, the wards and also in the community – which I haven’t done yet.
“I really like all the different experience I’ve had so far and the other midwives have been really supportive.”
Ali is one of several midwives who have moved to the UK and are working at ESNEFT as part of an international recruitment drive.
She added: “Ever area is different and there’s so much to learn. I’m currently working on the labour ward and I really love that – I love being there for women during birth and looking after them. Being able to have other options is great too – I can specialise in a diabetic team or perinatal mental health team. There are so many options.
“I like the way women’s choices are respected. Each woman is so different and their needs are so different, depending on whether they’re low or high risk, need continuous monitoring or have a condition such as pre-eclampsia.
“The moment their baby is born is just so special.”
Ros Bullen-Bell, Director of Midwifery at ESNEFT, said having the input of international midwives in the team is a very enriching experience.
She added: “We welcome international recruits to the Trust as they bring skills and different experiences everyone can learn from as they share their knowledge.
“We support all new starters – especially international recruits. We have recently appointed a new recruitment and retention midwife to ensure the team feel supported and continue to develop in their roles.”
Despite spending 35 years as a midwife, Ruth Keen still enjoys supporting parents and their new babies just as much as she did on her very first day.
She describes being able to provide holistic care to mums-to-be throughout their pregnancy and birth as a “privilege” – especially now she is working with some of the children she delivered earlier in her career as they go onto start their own families.
But Ruth’s commitment to providing exceptional care doesn’t end there. She is so passionate about making sure women can deliver safely that she also regularly shares her knowledge and expertise with midwives in Liberia through the Life for African Mothers charity. By teaching basic skills, Ruth and her fellow volunteers hope to improve care in a country so poverty-stricken that one in 11 women currently die during childbirth.
“I initially trained as a nurse, but decided to enhance my skills by completing the midwifery course after moving to Ipswich in 1987,” said Ruth, (pictured front left) who worked at the hospital before moving into the community in Felixstowe 26 years ago. “I ended up loving it so much that I’ve been a midwife ever since. I even came back after semi-retiring as I couldn’t stay away!
“I feel privileged to be able to offer continuity to women and find providing holistic care really rewarding. I love being part of the family at what is such a life-changing time.
“It’s fantastic to see people I have delivered go onto have their own children, and be part of someone’s journey from pregnancy to birth. I’m proud that I’ve been able to serve the community over so many years and also feel really lucky to have worked with brilliant teams who deliver some really great care every day.”
In addition to her work with East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), Ruth has now visited Liberia four times with Life for African Mothers.
“It had always been an ambition of mine to work in a developing country as I had experience in low resource care and felt I may be able to help,” she added. “There is huge poverty in Liberia and a shortage of healthcare professionals as it has also been ravaged by Ebola, which means it has one of the worst mortality rates in the world.
“Many women deliver under the care of untrained childbirth attendants who don’t have the skills, expertise, equipment or medication to be able to respond if things go wrong. Through the charity, we have delivered basic training and shown them alternative positions during labour and how to resuscitate babies. It has been an incredible privilege to work with such a highly motivated and appreciative group of people and it really felt like they were benefitting from us being there.
“We know we are only scratching the surface, but hope that we are helping in some small way to improve their knowledge and skills so that they can then go onto save lives.”
For more information about Life for African Mothers, visit www.lifeforafricanmothers.org
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