What is your role?
“I work with women who are at high risk throughout a pregnancy. I can start to see them from before they are even pregnant. They might have conditions like diabetes, renal issues or chronic illness; anything which might complicate a birth and cause high risk.
“I will see patients throughout the whole process of pregnancy making sure they are on the right medication because some medication is not right for pregnancy. I also work on call for any emergencies which could occur throughout birth. These may be women who have not been in hospital before, who have been brought in by ambulance from home. It might be a baby’s falling heart rate, a bleed; any urgent complications, I work to try and solve.”
Why did you want to do this job?
“I didn’t actually mean to do obstetrics; I started out training to be a GP but as part of my rotation I worked in obstetrics and loved it. It was working in labour ward, it was helping deliver babies, it was never the same and a bit like A&E in that way.
“Working in the high risk speciality as I do, I build very close relationships with the women I see. Quite often they have lost babies in the past so there is a real emotional aspect to their pregnancy, trying again. It means you get quite close, they remember you. I have a wall in my office which is full of baby photos. People write to me to tell me how their children are doing; that’s the whole kick of the job.
“I have been doing this for 20 years now. A good doctor listens to patients and communicates well. When someone goes home healthy and happy then you have done your job; it can be made that simple. But how you achieve that is the important thing. Knowing what you can and can’t treat is important. You may not be able to treat something, or achieve the perfect outcome but you must always remember that there is something you can do, something else, some way of making things better.
“But you can’t do this alone. The team you work within allows you to do your job. If there is an emergency and I am called I need to give clear, direct instruction to different team members, who you then trust will carry that out quickly and well. The feeling of this team working together to help someone in an emergency is incredible.”
What do you like about working for Derby Teaching Hospitals?
“We have got very good relationships across the whole maternity area. Our neonatal unit is excellent and works very closely with the labour ward. Our birth centre is really beautiful and there is a warmth among staff; they’re happy to be working here.
“There is great training available to staff.”
Why did you agree to take part in the programme?
“I’m very camera shy myself but I knew we had a couple (Alison and Alan) with a story to tell so I was prepared to be on film to help tell it. I felt that they were the ones really being filmed; that it was their story which I was a small part of. I was keen that what was captured wasn’t a posed picture but reality and so we needed to allow things to develop naturally and work with the production crew to allow them to capture it.”
How was it working with the camera and crew?
“They were excellent. There were no egos in there; they were there to capture a moment and they did that. Actually, what happened during the birth really affected them. I turned to them afterwards and they were both in tears. They had been professionals, they had captured the moment and then afterwards, what they’d seen really hit them. Birth is a miracle, every single time.”
How do you think viewers will react to the programme – especially the parts you appear in?
“Alison is very honestly vocal in a direct way so I think she herself will connect with viewers but her story will engage everyone, especially anyone who might be going through something similar. Alison had lost a baby before and was expecting again. I had been involved from the start, helping to look after them at the end of this pregnancy. I spoke to her and mentioned the television programme and she was interested in being part.
“In my job I do look after women who have lost a baby previously. I know that at each stage of a new pregnancy there are things which will frighten or intimidate them: coming back into the hospital, meeting the same staff. Some women don’t want the same consultant because the memory is too painful. But sometimes they do choose you and it is a real honour; you know in what context they have made that decision.
“I think people watching will respond to Alison’s story quite powerfully.”
What will you remember most about the experience?
“It was really quite a coincidence that we managed to get the birth on film. It was 5pm on a Friday and I was heading home. I just happened to drop into the labour ward; no real reason why. They said that Alison was about to give birth and I wanted to see this through. I called my husband, asked if he could look after the children and went in.
“The trainee midwife, Janine, happened to see the film crew in the corridor, who told her Alison was in labour ward so it all came down to a sequence of lucky chances that we could both be there.”