challenging the world of childbirth

Share this article

A LEIGH student has won one of the UK’s top midwifery prizes for her work in challenging new ways of childbirth.

Julie Haigh, 41, has scooped one of three Pampers’ Student Vision awards at the Royal College of Midwives’ (RCM) Annual Awards.

The mother-of-one had impressed judges with her efforts in questioning changes to the birthing process.

She challenged Leigh MP and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham on a recent report suggesting volunteers support women in labour.

She also challenged the closure of some maternity wards and recommendations that women should have the right to a cesarean, without knowing about the risks.

She said: “This was an opportunity for students to look at midwifery from a different angle and challenge things that are happening.

“Sometimes we can get bogged down in the medical side of things and midwives just want to provide normality for people.”

The award will help fund an elective placement at two hospitals in New York to gain greater understanding about childbirth in a medicalised and insurance-driven culture.

Julie will learn how American midwives learn to provide normal birth in a litigious society.

She said: “I will spend three weeks in New York to see how midwives communicate and how they alleviate fears in a financial and litigious environment.

“Women are told to stop pushing and to wait for a doctor to deliver the baby, but 71 per cent of women end up in theatre.”

Julie received her award at a ceremony hosted by journalist and broadcaster Natasha Kaplinsky.

She said: “I am thrilled to receive this award and the opportunities available to me as a result. I would like to thanks to Pampers, the RCM and my tutors for demonstrating commitment to the development of my experiences in becoming a qualified midwife.”

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This award highlights the important, innovative and pioneering international work being done by students like Julie.

“The result is empowered midwives and better services, better care and better outcomes for mothers, babies and their families.”

Julie decided to give up her job as a HR manager three years ago to fulfil her life-long ambition to become a midwife.

She will qualify in September and can’t wait to begin her role as a midwife.

She added: “Women having babies is such a miracle and midwives are so privileged to be let into someone’s life at the most special occasion.”