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Dealing with the joys and heartache of Doncaster Women's Hospital

Midwives at DRI, Lesley Crowcroft, Tracey  Gryzelka, Lizzie Ivill
Midwives at DRI, Lesley Crowcroft, Tracey Gryzelka, Lizzie Ivill

Doncaster mum Laura Roe knows exactly how dedicated the midwives are at Doncaster Women's Hospital.

They have just helped her through the stress of a giving birth to a baby prematurely, after little Chester Roe arrived four weeks short of full term.

Andy and Laura Roe with baby Harper

Andy and Laura Roe with baby Harper

After a four-and-a-half hour labour, Mrs Roe was able to hold her 6lbs 4oz boy in her arms safely.

Hairdresser Laura, aged 26, and husband Andrew, aged 25, a photographer, were pleased with the support she got from those working at the hospital who worked to make sure she and Chester were all right, despite his early arrival.

Laura said: "Everyone has been brilliant - I can't fault the care we're received.

"It was worrying having Chester early, but everything has been all right, and the people here have been really attentive with him being early."

Doncaster midwife Chloe Prendergast

Doncaster midwife Chloe Prendergast

For those at the hospital, Chester's early arrival is just part of the everyday work.

They receive a steady stream of new arrivals, with the numbers of babies coming through the doors pretty constant.

But at the moment bosses at the hospital have something extra to smile about. Despite a backdrop of a national shortage of midwives, their most recent recruitment exercise saw them fill all their 21 vacancies.

That has delighted Lynne Crewe, an experienced midwife who is now a clinical trainer with the newer recruits.

She said: "We knew we needed to recruit a lot of new midwives, and we wanted to give them a chance to see Doncaster for the friendly place it is. And I think it has helped that we are now a teaching hospital.

"When we held an open day for possible recruits, we thought we would maybe get 30. We got 70 to 80 turning up, and the room was absolutely full, and those who came along liked what they heard."

The trust's midwives arriving fresh from completing training at university get an 18-month programme to help them into the job, which sees them given specific training in tasks from sewing wounds to topping up intravenous drips. They are also helped to cope with upsetting parts of the job that can arise, when they have to deal with ill mothers or poorly children.

For a midwife, the day starts with a handover from the previous shift, including in-depth information about the care that's needed, and planning for babies to be taken home.

There can also be antenatal work with women who have not yet had their babies, especially in cases that are not straight forward. There will be briefings from obstetricians, who give them care plans to carry out. They will see some women admitted and some discharged. There will be phone advice to re-assure mums-to-be, and they will taking part in deliveries too.

It is a varied job with the duties done on either 12 hour day shifts, six and a half hour day shifts or 11 hour night shifts.

Chloe Prendergast has been working as a midwife for two years. She stayed at the hospital after having done some of her training there during her time on her course at Sheffield Hallam University.

She has been pleased to see so many new faces arrive, and feels they have brought a lot of ideas with them.

"There have been people who have come to work here from all over, and some of them have brought a lot of ideas from other hospitals which we can learn from.

"I really enjoy supporting the transition to parenthood. I love seeing people become parents and it is an amazing privilege."

Head of midwifery Sharon Dickinson said she was pleased to have the new posts filled at a time when there is a 3,500 shortage nationally.

But for Mrs Dickinson the important thing is working with the women and supporting them.

She said: "For me, it is about the women taking the lead, knowing that it is their pregnancy, and letting them know it is about their choices. We are here to support them. And for me, seeing the midwives grow and develop is great."

It is not always easy.

Mrs Crewe admits there are tough times for the staff which can be emotionally draining if all has not gone smoothly in a pregnancy.

She said: "We sometimes deal with very poorly ladies, which is upsetting, as well as some very poorly babies. Sometimes it is expected, some times it is not. There are times when you have to dig deep in terms of emotions and resilience, and part of the 18 months training we give to new midwives is learning how to build up that resilience. Some of our midwives may have come straight from college and can be dealing with quite complex emotions.

"These cases are few and far between, and we are getting better at finding at finding issues and dealing with them. We pick up a lot more situations and deal with them, than we did in the past."

Moving moments

For Doncaster's midwives, there are moments which make all the trials and tribulations of the job worthwhile.

Lynne Crewe loves the jobs because it make her so happy to meet people and be there at one of the most exciting times in their lives.

And she believes mums remember their midwives forever.

She said: "I was in the food hall at Meadowhall recently, and one of the mums came and chatted to me. She remembered me from when she had her baby. It was so nice and special."

Head of midwifery Sharon Dickinson has had similar experiences.

Someone recently told her she delivered her baby 17 years ago. She said: "I asked her if I was nice. The most important thing for is us that we are caring."

For Chloe Prendergast, the satisfaction comes from building a relationship with the family.

She said: "What stuck with me was one mum who was talking to me about names she could call her baby. She went through all sorts of different ones. I saw her after she had the baby, and she said she'd named her Chloe, after me. That was really emotional."