'I have done this job for 13 years and still find it magical'

Student Midwife Vicky Wright holding newborn baby Myla Jackson whom she delivered earlier that day
Student Midwife Vicky Wright holding newborn baby Myla Jackson whom she delivered earlier that day -Credit:Rachel Cobon

“It gives me an amazing rewarding feeling being able to look after mums and deliver their babies into the world.”

These are the words of Birkenhead’s Karen Cullen. The 47-year-old, who lives in Oxton, works in midwifery. She has been qualified for 20 years this year and says her career has “everything and more”.

The fetal surveillance lead midwife facilitates teaching, for both midwives and doctors, in monitoring the baby’s journey through labour and delivery, a job she has been doing at Wirral University Teaching Hospital since 2020.

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The biomedical science graduate told the ECHO: “Being a midwife is extremely rewarding. You get to be a part of such an important moment in someone’s life. It’s lovely to support mums who don’t have any complications but it’s also great to help mums who are having a difficult time and need more support and intensive care.

“I’d always wanted to be a midwife from a very early age. When I was young and people asked me what I wanted to do, I would say ‘deliver babies’. At the time I left school midwifery wasn’t a degree. But I feel like I’ve always been destined to be a midwife. It’s everything I thought it would be and more.

“I find it fascinating to see a woman’s body as it changes and grows a baby and the process of labour itself. I’m totally committed to supporting women to ensure their baby arrives safely.

“Every day I want to understand it even more so I still love doing the job because every day I’m still learning. As midwives, every woman we support is different.”

WUTH's fetal surveillance lead midwife Karen Cullen
WUTH's fetal surveillance lead midwife Karen Cullen -Credit:Rachel Cobon

Karen is just one of the women the ECHO spoke with in light of International Day of the Midwife. Celebrated annually on Sunday, May 5, this year's theme is at the core of COP28 and strategies to improve the health and status of women.

Student midwife Vicky Wright is currently on a 10-week placement at the WUTH’s maternity ward - something at one stage she didn’t believe would ever happen. The 42-year-old is in the second year of an honours degree at Liverpool John Moores University and balances this alongside being a mum of six.

Vicky, from Connah’s Quay, told the ECHO: “Everyone has to chip in around the house. But it works. My family are really supportive because they all know how much I want to qualify as a midwife.”

With a family comprising of her husband, two dogs and six children ranging from age nine to 22, balancing the demands of her studies whilst being a parent has needed a lot of organisational skills. Before embarking on her degree, Vicky spent 10 years as a full-time carer for her mum who was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

She said: “Sometimes I can’t quite believe that I’m actually doing the thing that seemed like a pipe dream just a short time ago.

“But I do think that my life skills and experiences of looking after others have helped me to get here. I love the job, it’s so rewarding. I just delivered a baby in a birthing pool this morning, my 30th delivery. To qualify, I need to deliver 40.

“It’s amazing seeing a baby being born. As midwives, we are less hands-on with a water birth. We use a mirror and a torch to see what’s happening. With a bit of guidance from the midwife, the baby comes to the top of the water and we pass the baby to mum.

“As part of my course requirements, I keep a little chart of all the babies I have delivered to keep a tally. Whether the one giving birth is standing, sitting or in a pool, it’s all just amazing. In this job, you’re learning forever, there is always something different going on.”

Midwife Aimi Kerrigan is expecting a baby of her own later this year
Vicky Wright is completing her placement at Women and Children's Hospital at Wirral University Teaching Hospital

Also working in maternity services at WUTH is midwife Aimi Kerrigan who is expecting a baby of her own in September.

The 31-year-old from Prenton said: “I fell in love with midwifery when my best friend asked me to go with her to a university talk on it. Up till then, all I knew about the profession was what I’d seen on TV. I’ve since found out that there is so much more to midwifery than delivering a baby.

"There are so many sides to midwifery. It can be a very challenging job but every aspect of it is rewarding. It’s an honour to be able to support women and their families during this time and after 13 years of being in midwifery, I still find it all magical. I'm very lucky to do what I do.”

The mum-of-one said after she got her degree in 2014 she has “never looked back” and “found where I’m supposed to be”.

She added: “The staff community here is like a family. We all work together so well because we want to make sure the women who come to us for their birth have the best possible experience. Now I’m pregnant with my second baby and I will be having the birth here, just like with my first.”

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