In March 1989 with a two week old baby and an almost four year old we moved to London.
As a young Mum in a new city I soon realised the value of toddler groups, without the support of other Mums I would have been very isolated.
I returned to midwifery with a job at Lewisham hospital working part-time night shifts on the delivery suite. My youngest was one when I returned to work.
During this time I was delivering about 50 babies a year, gaining a great deal of clinical experience. Many night shifts were busy and exciting.
In 1996 I made a career change to Community Midwifery, after six years of clinical experience I felt ready for this autonomous role. Working in the community allows midwives to become proficient in all aspects of care. The role is to support women from conception until the baby is a month old, it gives a very broad knowledge base.
I felt as though I had really arrived in my perfect job. I was fortunate to be working in a very diverse community, which gave me a rich experience. I stayed in the same geographical area running two busy antenatal clinics for six years. This enabled me to build up relationships with many families, whose extended family I cared for. I felt like a traditional community midwife, recognised and appreciated by the people I cared for.
I felt like my job couldn’t get any better……then it did.
In 2002 I began working in Bellingham as a Surestart midwife, I was given the freedom to make the job my own and also make my mark in the local community.
I set up and launched the Bellingham Breastfeeding café, a drop in centre where women could come for advice, practical help and a listening ear. It also enabled families to form friendship groups and support each other.
I later did lots of work around starting training for the first breastfeeding peer supporters, a group of breastfeeding mothers trained to support their peers.
In 2009 I attended a baby massage training programme, passed my exam and became an International Association of Infant massage instructors, enabling me to teach parents the wonderful skill of massaging their babies.
I set up the MSLS (maternity liaison committee) in Lewisham Borough, as part of my supervisor of midwives training. This is a powerful service user group which advises much of the services in the hospital. I was also the first person in Lewisham to pioneer direct access to their midwife. Women no longer had to be referred to the midwife via the GP but could contact their midwife directly.
After six incredible years in Bellingham the funding for my post was withdrawn and my job was deleted. This was not only a blow to me, but a tragedy for the families who had benefitted from all the extra support having their own community midwife easily accessible.
In 1979 I began what would be a varied and exciting career with the NHS. After three years in general nurse training in Stockport, Cheshire, I decided to continue my studies and embark on a midwifery career.
I trained in South Manchester and qualified in 1982, I stayed at the hospital where I trained until 1985. After the birth of my daughter in 1985, I returned to my job in Manchester, juggling my career with caring for my baby. I am proud to say I continued to breastfeed her for several months after I returned to work.
When my daughter was about two and a half, we moved to Edinburgh. Unable to gain part-time work in midwifery I returned to general nursing. We stayed in Edinburgh for about 18 months by which time I was pregnant with my second daughter.
Sue offers one-to-one breastfeeding support
in the privacy of your own home
"Being quite a stressed new mum, Sue's class was both fun and reassuring, and a lovely time to spend with other mums and our babies and learn more about their physicality through massage"
After a couple of years in one of the community teams, my colleague Nancy and myself created a specialist midwifery team supporting mothers with mental health problems. We supported families through pregnancy, delivery and extended postnatal care.
During this time I learnt so much about the strength and resilience of women with conditions such as bi polar affective disorder, anxiety and depression, gaining an insight into how best to care for these incredible women.
In 2014 I became a grandma to two lovely boys. Then in 2016 I gained two more lovely grandchildren. I’m so proud of my daughters who are wonderful mothers.
Becoming a grandma made me review my work life. After 36 years I wanted to be at home on Christmas Day, to no longer have to be on call overnight and be able to say yes to all invitations, without having to trade shifts.
I also felt a real passion to share all I have learnt over these incredible years with young parents. In January I handed in my notice and my new baby Withinyou was born.
I believe that the potential to be a great parent is within all of us.
The right support and encouragement can release the parent WithinYou.