Latest News 18 March 2020 | Lesley Hinson estimates she saw up to 60 women a year during her 29 years as a community midwife.
It was a privilege to work with every one of them, she says.
'“You knew the family, you knew the circumstances. You had a relationship and they trusted you. I learned so much from the continuity. Now I get invited to birthday parties and weddings,” Lesley says.
Lesley, who is retiring this year (aptly during the Year of the Nurse and Midwife) provided midwifery care from early pregnancy to six weeks after birth to women across the Counties Manukau region.
There are many highlights of her long career, among them having a police car escort her as she drove a labouring woman to hospital.
''A mum of 32 weeks phoned me about terrible pain in her thighs. Knowing this could be contractions and premature labour, I quickly visited her home and made an assessment. She lived near Middlemore so I made the decision to put her in my car and drive rather than wait for an ambulance. I phoned ahead to the Birthing and Assessment unit.
“On the way, a police car started following me, which turned into an escort with full flashing lights when the officer recognised the situation.”
In another case, a mother described her infant as being “too good” which sent alarm bells to the seasoned health professional. The sleepy and unfussy child was soon discovered to have a heart problem.
“I learned to listen to the mums and trust their instincts.”
Lesley says a lot of people don’t realise the extent of training midwives undergo.
“As health professionals we recognise we never stop learning. We learn from each other. The French word for midwife is Sage Femme, which translates literally as ‘wise woman”’.
Over the years, Lesley has noticed one of the biggest changes in the industry has been the impact of dramatic TV programmes and social media posts on new mothers and their expectations of birth.
Most births, she says, are straightforward and do not require intervention. Often the only time midwifery is covered in the media is when things go wrong and the good stories don’t get published, which can heighten women’s anxiety.
Originally from Liverpool in the UK where she first trained to be a midwife, she acknowledges there are challenges facing the CM Health population directly related to poverty and housing.
“At the moment there are growing numbers of people with medical problems. Sadly so many people are in the highest deprivation level in terms of housing and access to affordable nutrition. Consequently they are far more vulnerable to complications such as diabetes before they even get pregnant.”
Lesley is winding down her extensive career by working casually at the Botany Birthing Unit.
When she does fully retire she will relish spending more time with her seven grandchildren and other family and friends.