ON Friday last, University Maternity Hospital Limerick celebrated the International Day of the Midwife by hosting an information session promoting midwifery as a career for local secondary school students, and by having a celebration in the canteen for staff.
Special birth certificates were also given to all babies born on International Day Of The Midwife to mark the occasion.
Director of midwifery, Margaret Quigley, said “University Maternity Hospital Limerick is engaging with the National Women’s and Infants Programme to implement the National Maternity Strategy. In January of this year we were very pleased to recruit Jose, our first male midwife, and he is settling in very well among the majority female staff.
“Midwifery is a separate profession from nursing and gradually establishing its own identity locally and nationally, and certainly in Limerick we have a lot to be proud of. We are especially proud of our midwives on how they are embracing all these changes and I would like to wish each and every one of them a very happy International Day of the Midwife,” Ms Quigley added.
Jose Espineira is from La Coruna in Northern Spain and qualified first as a nurse, as is required in Spain, before choosing midwifery.
His midwifery education took place in London, where he went on to work in Homerton University Hospital in Hackney and St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. The latter is famous as the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge recently had her third child.
Jose went on to work in Auckland, New Zealand, before a desire to return closer to home led him to Limerick.
Jose is encouraging Irish secondary school students to consider midwifery as a career.
“When I was 16 or 17 years old I had no plan to become a midwife, but once you come into contact with it, it is difficult to imagine doing anything else. You can go anywhere in the world with it and then there is that very special sensation of helping women and babies in an extraordinary moment. It is an amazing feeling every time and nothing can compare to it,” said Jose.
It is thought that Jose is one of around a dozen male midwives in Ireland and the first to practice at UMHL.
“In Spain, I have looked at some research that says it is about a 5 to 8% male workforce so slightly more common than in Ireland.
“My wife Mila is also a midwife and also working in the labour ward in Limerick and we have been made to feel very welcome here. Ireland and Galicia are very similar in many ways. The staff here have been brilliant and it has been a very smooth transition for me.
“As for the women, only a few have asked questions about me but nobody has ever said ‘I don’t want a male midwife to be there’. I can’t say the same for other countries I have been in but the women of University Maternity Hospital Limerick have been absolutely fine about it.”
“Midwives are actively involved in making improvements locally to provide choice for women in relation to pregnancy, labour and postnatal period.
“This includes the introduction of labouring in water as a non-pharmacological way of coping with contractions, commmunity midfery services to to deliver care closer to home and the provision of hypnobirthing classes.”
By Carol Byrne