A MIDWIFE from the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Westmorland General Hospital was awarded Midwife of the year at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust’s (UHMBT) Your Health Heroes awards, for her work with women who need extra support through their pregnancy and birth.
For any woman, childbirth can be a daunting, scary or stressful time, and in some cases, extra support is needed to help those who are particularly vulnerable.
That is where Julie Fallows, mental health midwife, steps in.
Her role is to help those mums-to-be identified with mental health issues before, during and after birth – an incredibly important role considering that the experience a woman has during childbirth can stay with her long into the future.
For many women, the additional support Mrs Fallows provides is invaluable, as demonstrated in the account of the mum who put her forward for her award.
She said: “My first birth experience was very traumatic, it left me with flashbacks, emotional and physical scars, and a lack of trust in those caring for me. When it came to having my second child, I fought to get the birth I felt was right.
“It all went beautifully. But although I was on a birth high, it highlighted just how traumatic my first experience was.
“I retreated into myself, lost my self-esteem and confidence as a parent. I was eventually diagnosed with post-natal depression.
“When we discovered we were having our third child, as a precaution, I opted to see Julie.
“She was warm and open, immediately empathised and allowed me to talk without interruption.
“I felt safe and grateful I could finally talk it through with someone who just listened, didn’t judge, dismiss or try to force anything.
“I feel Julie has worked for, and with, me.
“I have been treated as an individual and her non-judgmental, gentle and reliable approach has made such a difference.”
Despite the judges having said it was the toughest category to call, the moving nature of Mrs Fallows’ nomination could not be overlooked, and it was on the basis of this woman’s story that she received the award.
Julie, who lives near Kendal, said: “I was touched even to be nominated by one of the women I’ve worked with, and winning it is very nice.
“But I work very much as part of a team – midwives, mental health workers, support workers and GPs. It isn’t something I could do on my own.”
Julie was presented with her award by Lesley Easthope, from the category’s sponsor, ArjoHuntleigh.
This is the first time the public has been able to nominate hospital staff for awards, and the Trust received more than 160 nominations from patients and staff alike.