The first birth I ever saw was attended by a midwife—a rare occurrence in the U.S. I was a nursing student at the time, doing my first clinical shift on my obstetrics rotation, and I was completely unprepared for what happened over the next several hours as I was drawn into the woman’s birth. The sheer amount of effort required by labour, the woman’s doubt and despair along the way, the midwife’s gentle encouragement and unswerving confidence in the process, and the woman’s ultimate strength and determination made a lasting impression on me that night. When the tiny, squalling baby finally emerged, I burst into tears (along with the new mother and father), as it was absolutely the most beautiful thing I had ever seen before.
From that point on I became obsessed with midwifery. I sought out midwife-attended births for the rest of my obstetrics rotation, I began to read voraciously on the subject, and I spoke with midwives and obstetrical nurses about their jobs. I quickly began to question the routine and often unnecessary interventions imposed on birth in the United States, becoming well-versed in the politics of American midwifery along the way. When I graduated in 2003 with my nursing degree, I took a job on a labour ward to gain more experience and discovered that I had a real talent for it. Over the next three years I continued to work as an obstetric nurse while attending midwifery school part-time.
Upon graduating with my Masters in Midwifery in 2007, I worked at a high-volume public hospital in Brooklyn for the next 5 years, serving some of the most vulnerable women in New York City. Teen pregnancy, substance abuse, domestic violence and unstable living situations were some of the challenges I regularly encountered, and during this time I learned first-hand how difficult and exhausting the work can be, often with limited resources to draw upon and a never-ending to-do list. However, I also found the work endlessly fascinating and deeply fulfilling on every level. As a midwife I loved that my role extended beyond the labour ward, covering both the antenatal and postnatal periods and allowing me to develop lasting relationships with my patients. After giving birth to my first son in 2011, my own experiences with breastfeeding prompted me to further my education in that area as well, and I spent the next two years qualifying as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a profession I still practice today.
In 2013 we made the decision to move back to the UK to be closer to my husband’s family. When we moved here, I knew that the NMC would not accept my American midwifery or nursing licenses and that I would have to re-do the degree all over again in order to practice as a midwife here. Not ideal! But re-qualifying a second time seems a small price to pay in order to continue to practice the profession that I love for the remainder of my career. I am excited about the prospect of studying British midwifery and in particular the NHS—a system which I greatly admire. I’m excited about being part of a healthcare system where normal obstetrical care is midwife-led.
I have a loving partner, two rambunctious sons, a small but growing hat collection, and a purple orchid which I am just about managing to keep alive. In my spare time you can sometimes find me sitting in at a session (I play a mean Irish fiddle), eating sushi, or knitting or jogging around Richmond Park, since running is one of my other passions. Being a student midwife, mum and lactation consultant keeps me incredibly busy, though, and my husband and sons get most of my rare free-time.
I am a proud feminist and a strong woman. If I had to describe myself in three words, they would be compassionate, fierce and loving.
Midwifery is my calling. I love attending births and helping other women find their own inner strength. I don’t believe that midwives deliver babies. I believe that midwives help women deliver their own babies into this world.
I have always thought that education unlocks the key to trust. I think that the more women know about their miraculous bodies, the more they’ll trust those very same bodies. I am a strong supporter of reproductive education and reproductive freedom. I believe women should have access to birth control and birth choices, and that women should be given as much information as possible about their bodies, medical care and health options so that they can make informed decisions.
I don’t really think there’s a right way of doing anything, or a wrong way of doing anything. There’s only the best way, for each and every person, and the responsibility of every person to find their own best way. I support home birth and natural childbirth, but I don’t look down on those who ask for epidurals, or birth their babies through cesarean delivery. I will always work hard to educate, encourage and support, but never judge.
I think it’s okay to be loud and outspoken on issues you feel passionately about, so long as you’re also able to listen, let others talk, and sit in silence with a woman while she labors.
I believe patience is not just a noun but a way of life.
I believe that birth is a miracle, each and every time.
I think there’s nothing more beautiful than a newborn baby breastfeeding while a delighted family watches.