Here is Rachel’s “Midwife of the week” interview. (It’s a different Rachel to 2 weeks ago). Thanks Rachel for your pearls of wisdom!
1. What is your name, age and favorite colour?
Rachel O’Keeffe, I’m the new 30 which means I’m 40 and I like blue.
2. When did you know you wanted to become a midwife?
I actually did an arts degree first and one day a homebirth midwife came to talk at the university. I thought what she did sounded so interesting and it opened my eyes to the whole concept of midwifery as an autonomous profession. It took me a few years to actually pursue it seriously.
3. Where did you do your midwifery training? Why did you choose that particular uni/hospital?
I trained at NEPEAN which was really busy. I remember for my training I got more than enough deliveries but had trouble getting enough birth witnesses to meet the requirements of my training! We were too busy doing deliveries to actually stand round witnessing. I learnt the real art of being a midwife at the Blue Mountains Hospital a couple of years later where the midwives were very special and wonderful teachers.
4. How long have you been a midwife? And what area of midwifery do you work in?
I have been a midwife for over ten years. I work in indigenous health. The issues are really different. Many of the women I work with have a mistrust of health professionals and hospitals as we have been part of a system of child removal in the past with the stolen generation.
5. Are you a mum? Whether you answered yes or no, do you think that has any affect on your practice as a midwife?
I am a mother of five kids. People think you are mad to have a big family but I love it. It has affected my practise. I’ve had everything from a home birth to a caesarean section for my own births. I felt pretty cheated and in grief about my caesars and I think this has given me empathy as a midwife for women who have been disappointed with their birth experience. I’ve also breastfed for over 6 years of my life so I’ve picked up a few things about breastfeeding!
6. What is your favorite birthing memory?
I have so many but I don’t want to say too much to respect women’s privacy.
7. Can you recall a time when you were most scared as a midwife?
There have been a few that will stay with me forever.
8. What’s your birthing or midwifery philosophy?
I like the natural stuff personally but I go with what the woman wants every time. I’m not the one having the baby!
9. Do you think you’ll still be a midwife in 20 years?
With 5 kids I still be working till I’m eighty! I hope in 20 years I might be off having some midwifery adventures in remote areas of Australia or overseas on a working holiday.
10. What’s one thing you want every expectant mother to know?
You can’t ‘spoil’ babies. Cuddle them and hold them as much as you like. As a culture we are obsessed with separating the baby from the mother and getting them to be independant way too quick. Most of the world sleeps with their babies and uses slings. They don’t have the same ‘settling’ issues we do! You can’t spoil a baby with love!