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International Day of the Midwife at University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL)

Joanne Ahern
UL Hospitals Group’s Director of Midwifery, Eileen Ronan, holding one of the special certificates to be presented to mums of babies born at University Maternity Hospital Limerick on May 5th. "It's important that on International Day of the Midwife this year, we remind women of the midwifery care and services that have been ever-present at UMHL throughout the extraordinary times we’re living through."

This year’s celebration of International Day of the Midwife at University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL) on Wednesday May 5th focused on how local midwives have risen to the extraordinary challenge of Covid-19 to provide safe care to the women and infants of the Mid-West.

The event—with its 2021 theme of ‘Follow the Data; Invest in Midwives’—serves as a prominent reminder of the importance of midwifery, and the invaluable care that midwives provide.

While maternity care in the Mid-West has been dominated by unprecedented challenges, and there will be none of the celebratory events traditionally held to mark the occasion, the International Day of the Midwife remains a key date in the UL Hospitals Group calendar.

Special birth certificates have been given to the mothers of all babies born in UMHL this Wednesday to mark the special bond between midwives at UMHL and the new mums of the Mid-West and their children.

Joanne Ahern
Joanne Ahern and her infant son, Evan, who was born at University Maternity Hospital Limerick at 00.57am on Wednesday May 5th, 2021, International Day of the Midwife, receiving a special commemorative certificate from UMHL Staff Midwife, Carrie Crowley.

Hospital staff have also been promoting a national HSE campaign asking young people who are thinking about their careers to consider becoming a midwife. In March, the midwifery staff jointed the UL Junior Health Science Academy virtual careers fair for Transition Year students. And on International Day of the Midwife, midwifery staff are urging young people to reflect on the endless opportunities for midwives to learn and build their skills in a rewarding, joyful career.

Amy Barry, a midwife in UMHL describes how fulfilling her career has been for her: “Every journey with women and their birth partners is inspiring and humbling, as we empower them to making informed choices. It’s an enriching experience and a privilege to share in the joy of the birth of their baby.”

Her UMHL midwife colleague, Amy Downes, adds: “Describing what is most rewarding about midwifery is difficult to put into words. There are so many rewarding things. Remembering all the tiny tots who I’ve heard cry their first cry is something that always brings a smile to my face. There is a great sense of honour in being given the opportunity to help mothers bring life into the world. They may not remember my name, but they will remember how I made them feel on that day and that is a very special privilege I have.”

A midwife is central to preparing women and their families for the delivery of their new baby and is a vital presence during all stage of pregnancy, labour and the early postnatal period. As a career, midwifery is diverse and progressive, with options available in clinical, management, education and research roles. Throughout their training, midwives can gain experience and skills across different specialist areas, such as gynaecology, neonatal, theatre and even home births.

Midwives provide care and support to women and their families while pregnant, throughout the birth and during the period after a baby's birth. Midwifery services are increasingly moving from the hospital to the community. There are now many opportunities for midwives to develop their career as the role of midwives continue to expand, these include clinical specialist roles and advanced midwifery specialist roles. Midwifery as a career is very rewarding, dynamic and self-fulfilling and we would encourage students thinking about their career options to consider midwifery.”

Angela Dunne, Director of Midwifery for the HSE National Women and Infants Health Programme explains why the career is a great choice for a student considering their options, or someone who might be seeking a career change: “While many midwives start their career as a nurse and then chose the path of midwifery, students starting off today can specialise from the start and choose to study and train as a midwife Whatever pathway is taken, midwives can continue to learn and build their skills in what is truly a rewarding and joyful career. The HSE needs more midwives and there are a range of courses and job opportunities available in hospitals and communities across the country.”

UL Hospitals Group’s Director of Midwifery, Eileen Ronan, emphasised that since the COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of social and physical distancing measures, normal service at UMHL has been largely uninterrupted, apart from visiting restrictions. “No-one can minimise the impact these restrictions have had on women using our services, their partners and loved ones. The restrictions run counter to the spirit of joy and happiness traditionally associated with pregnancy and the arrival of new-born babies, and we are delighted to be in a position where we can safely permit circumstances in a phased basis that allow parents and their children closer contact at this most important time in their lives,” Ms Ronan said

“It’s appropriate that this year in particular, we use the platform of International Day of the Midwife not just to celebrate our successes and the importance of midwifery, but also to remind women of the midwifery care and services that are ever-present at UMHL throughout the extraordinary times we’re living through as a result the Covid-19 pandemic,” Ms Ronan said.

Coordinating the local celebrations for International Day of the Midwife on site at UMHL this year is Linda O’Mahony, Clinical Skills Coordinator HDM, who works with registered general nurses undertaking the Higher Diploma in Midwifery as well as undergraduate midwifery students. Ms O’Mahony, who has been a midwife for 16 years, said: “Today, we’re reflecting on how midwives have played such a central role in keeping our services going throughout the pandemic. I’ve been a midwife myself for 16 years, and I think the pandemic has truly illustrated the importance for the midwifery service for women and their families in the Mid-West. It’s a fantastic career, very rewarding and fulfilling, and I would encourage any student or anyone thinking about career options at the moment, to consider midwifery.”

Listen to the audio clip about the International Day of the Midwife on Soundcloud

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