My 53-year Career as a Midwife

Eileen Shaw, started out as a student Nurse in 1969 in Northern Ireland, before qualifying as a midwife in 1974. Eileen has since had a 53 year long, rewarding and happy career across a variety of different roles at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals.

Balancing family life with two young children a husband and seeing her eleven other siblings, Eileen started working three nights a week on the Women and Children’s Maternity unit. Over the span of her career, although impossible to say for sure, Eileen estimates that she has delivered hundreds of babies recalling a night where there were 15 births one after the other. “You can have nights like that where you’re supporting mother after mother and others where you get to nurture that time with expecting and new mums. No day is truly the same and as a midwife you cherish each of those special moments.”

Several years later, once her children had started school, Eileen accepted a position as a community midwife which involved seeing new and expecting mums at home. Looking back Eileen named this as her fondest memory highlighting the success of the continuity of care service that she helped develop and deliver. “It was lovely you could meet a new mummy who was going through her journey for the first time and be with her throughout it all, I’ve also seen mothers’ multiple times and seen their families grow delivering babies of the babies I had delivered… there is something magical about that.”

After an accident Eileen moved roles to a day shift team leader back at Blackpool Victoria Hospital where she was less hands on but used her years of experience to guide and lead teams of midwives and new students. “We always describe our team as a work family, we are here for each other during those celebrations, life’s challenges and darkest times. My colleagues and friends play such a big part in why the team here in Blackpool are so special.”

In 2008, Eileen officially retired as a full-time midwife, Deputy Head of midwifery at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, Lisa Fitzgerald echoed the thoughts of the team, “Eileen is the epitome of a compassionate midwife and a real credit to Blackpool Maternity services, her wisdom, experience and infectious personality has inspired many midwifes across the years. Whilst our technologies, procedures and policies have changed, Eileen has stayed throughout delivering generations of babies. We were thrilled when she agreed to stay on our bank staff, post-retirement.”

53 years later after first enrolling to become a midwife Eileen continues to support the Triage team at the Maternity unit 2 days a week. “To anyone considering a career in midwifery, my advice would be talk to midwives, learn about the career. There are so many specialties from mental health midwifery to bereavement midwifes. To me it has been very interesting, rewarding, and challenging but importantly you are part of a work family who put mothers and babies at the centre of their care.”