Earlier this month, we hosted a Midwifery Going Forward event in Munster Technological University (MTU), Tralee.
The discussion allowed us to hear from leading experts in midwifery from the Kerry, Cork and wider Munster region on the evolving role of midwives and getting breastfeeding over the line.
Professor Patricia Leahy-Warren, Professor in Maternal and Infant Health at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork (UCC) outlined how breastfeeding is both a public health issue and a woman’s choice, highlighting the evidence that exists to support it.
Dr Ray Healy, NMBI’s Director of Registration, discussed the midwifery demographics in the State of the Register 2022 report. As of 1 June 2022, there were 9,661 registered midwives in Ireland, with 4,561 currently practising and 3,850 in patient-facing roles. Dr Healy explained how the number of practising midwives has increased while there are approximately 2,500 midwives maintaining their registration who are not currently practicing in the country.
Attendees then heard from two panel discussions on the Evolving role of the midwife and Breastfeeding: Getting it over the line.
Evolving role of the midwife panel:
Pictured (L to R): Kirsty Hawthorn, a self-employed Community Midwife; Joann Malik, RAMP in University Hospital Kerry (UHK); Louise Chawke, a CNM2 Perinatal Mental Health Specialist; Dr Rhona O'Connell, Midwifery Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, UCC; Katie Bourke, Director of Midwifery at Cork University Maternity Hospital; Nicola O’Brien, a recently qualified midwife working in UHK; and Sandra O’Connor, Director of Midwifery at UHK.
Breastfeeding: Getting it over the line panel:
Pictured (L to R): Sheila McClelland, NMBI CEO; Laura McHugh, National Infant Feeding Coordinator; Mairead O'Sullivan, Infant Feeding Coordinator at UHK; Louise Galvin and son Florian; Panel Chair, Dawn Johnston, NMBI Director of Midwifery; and Essene Cassidy, NMBI President.
NMBI Director of Midwifery, Dawn Johnston, said: “Midwifery Going Forward was an engaging discussion on the future of midwifery in Ireland and on the challenges the sector is facing. It fostered conversation on the retention and recruitment of midwives, as well as the various roles and flexibility the career can offer through various pathways in the community, acute and self-employed opportunities.
“Attendees also highlighted the need for the profession to become more comfortable with supporting and promoting breastfeeding where it is possible, as well as the need for new mums to have access to supports and resources when breastfeeding their infants.
"The event came at a good time as we are finalising our new strategy for 2023-2025 which aims to address the issues facing midwifery, including ensuring applicants are registered to practise as quickly as possible and making information available to inform service planning.
“I would like to thank MTU for hosting the event and the regional hospitals for their support and an engaging discussion on the future of midwifery in Ireland. I would also like to thank all the panelists for their meaningful contributions on the day.”
A summary of the discussion and a photo gallery can be found on our website.