Assistant Professor of Midwifery
Following my undergraduate degree in genetics, I undertook my professional nurse and midwife education in Belfast City and Jubilee Hospitals. While working on the labour ward / delivery suite in the Jubilee Maternity Hospital, I completed an M.Sc. in Midwifery in Queen’s University Belfast. I then went to serve as a volunteer for two years with Irish Aid (APSO Association for Personal Services Overseas) to teach Nurse Midwifery in Mzuzu. This is a small town in the North of Malawi, East Africa.
In Mzuzu, I worked as a nurse midwife teacher in St. John’s Hospital which was administered by the Medical Missionaries of Mary. I was involved in many aspects of midwifery and maternity care that I would not have had the opportunity to see in Ireland; this included valuable experience attending breech and twin births. Each nurse midwife student in Malawi must have supervised experience in complex deliveries prior to registration as a nurse midwife. I was also involved in the production of procedure manuals for the labour ward and in the development of a baby friendly / breast feeding promotion programme including promotional posters in the vernacular (Chi Timbuka). Overseas work was very rewarding and gave me invaluable insight into the realities and challenges faced by so many people who share our planet. It also made me thankful for the good things I have and, I hope, more conscious of my contribution to others.
I returned to a midwifery teaching post in the Rotunda Hospital and undertook a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Health Science Education in Trinity College Dublin. My postgraduate studies have enabled me to register as a Nurse Tutor with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland and, the introduction of an undergraduate degree in midwifery has facilitated my entrance into third level education with a lecturer’s post in Trinity College Dublin. I secured funding from the Health Research Board to conduct research about home birth midwifery and conferred with a Ph.D in 2010. I carried a home birth midwifery caseload during my research study, not least to demonstrate my commitment to home birth. This practice has been delightful because it has allowed me to provide midwifery care in real relationships that are genuinely holistic and rewarding for mother and midwife. My home birth practice has also helped me to maintain my competence and credibility as a midwife educator. Independent home birth midwifery practice can be quite isolating and the combined demands of practice, teaching, research and publication can be difficult to sustain.
I am fortunate and delighted to be able to share my passion for midwifery with pre-registration students and with those undertaking Masters and Doctoral studies. I continue to support and develop professional midwifery practice, particularly in midwifery led, community and home birth services. It is useful as an alumnus of Trinity College Dublin to have made a network of committed and passionate midwives who, together, work to influence maternity policy and to optimise women centred choices in Irish maternity services.