This Is What It's Like To Be A Midwife In Ireland

Avril Flynn, Motherboard podcast presenter, mum-of-one and midwife, is highlighting International Day of the Midwife, which falls on May 5th.

Today marks International Day of the Midwife. It is a job I adore and a profession I'm incredibly proud to be a member of.

I've met and worked with the most incredible collection of women (and a few men) and my career has contained some of the very best days of my life. But also some of the very worst.

Before I became a midwife, I worked in lots of different jobs but I have never known a collection of people who work so hard and tirelessly in helping people.

Days are long and breaks are few; days can be challenging but are nonetheless incredibly rewarding.

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I have often been awe-struck with the compassion and skill of my colleagues and the fun and camaraderie of working hours more suited to a vampire (seven7 nights in a row is no joke!).

There is no typical day for a midwife - it totally depends on what area you work in.

Midwives can work in the community, be hospital-based or a mixture of both. You can be based in an antenatal clinic looking after mums-to-be and their bumps, helping new mothers learn the skills of parenthood on a postnatal ward or, like me, giving antenatal and childbirth preparations classes.

As much as it can be wonderful, the job itself can be full of frustration.

Invariably, with the huge staff shortages in nearly every maternity hospital in the country, it is impossible to give the time you wish to give to your clients and the care that people deserve.

You try your best every day, but with only one pair of hands and only so many hours in the day, it can be very de-moralising.

The term midwife literally means “with-woman”. As I've mentioned, midwives can work in all sorts of areas, but the most well-known part of the job itself obviously encompasses the labour or delivery ward; the very rewarding work of aiding women birth their new little beings into the world.

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People often ask does any particular birth stick out in my mind? While I have helped hundreds of women, my most favourite memory and birth is one close to home and is, without doubt, one of the best days of my life - that is the birth of my own son.

The great thing for me is that having helped and witnessed so many births, I really wasn't afraid at all. Us, midwives, are experts in the normal; we have an intuitive trust in women's bodies and their amazing ability to birth their children.

To watch a new little person enter the world and take their first breath never gets old and is never anything less than spine-tingling to witness. While things can and do go wrong, in most cases, with excellent midwifery care, it generally goes well.

So, while slightly apprehensive about the pain part, I was very excited to see what it actually felt like to give birth myself.

I had the added excitement that my baby was due on a Tuesday and I was determined to be a bridesmaid for my little sister who was getting married on the Thursday - so no pressure!

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I had been getting pains on and off for a few days and decided to head in at 3am on the day of my estimated due date.

From the moment I entered the hospital door, I gained an entirely new appreciation for what midwives actually do. I was simply blown away by the care I received.

My colleagues and friends were just superb and I couldn't have been better looked after.

Felix entered the world safely and with very little drama and I felt like a warrior queen! I felt so lucky to have been surrounded by such an awesome bunch of people to guide and support me.

So, on International Day of the Midwife I wish to salute you, my fellow midwives. You are my heroes!

A bunch of wondrous and eclectic creatures to whom I will be eternally grateful for my son but also for the unwavering skill that you all commit to with your work.

You may be understaffed and under-resourced but you are nonetheless committed to the women and babies you care for every single day.

Oh, and in case you are wondering… I made it to the wedding baby in tow!!

Avril Flynn

Avril is a Registered Midwife, Childbirth Educator, Hypnobirth Practitioner, Podcast and Live Event presenter and mother of one.

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