Pandemic experience sparks career change for Neilston mum

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The coronavirus pandemic put life into perspective for many but for one Neilston mum, it inspired a change of career.

Kirsty Johnstone’s experience of giving birth during the crisis has embarked on a journey to retrain as a midwife, spurred on by her own experience and the care she received.

The 28-year-old Renfrewshire woman is now juggling her first year of midwifery studies at the Paisley-based University of the West of Scotland.

Kirsty, mum to three-year-old Charlie and Ella, one, spoke of her experiences to mark International Day of the Midwife yesterday (Thursday).

She said: “I’m not quite sure how I do it. Lots of studying once the kids are in bed. I enjoy a challenge!”

Before the pandemic, Kirsty worked as a travel agent for a small Glasgow-based company specializing in world tours.

But she told how she was headed for a new destination herself after her pregnancy, saying: “It was March 2020 and I was 20 weeks pregnant with my daughter when I was furloughed. While it gave me the chance to relax a bit and enjoy my pregnancy, it was also an uncertain time both from a job perspective and being pregnant in a world pandemic.”

When her daughter was born in August 2020, Kirsty began maternity leave before being furloughed again in 2021.

She said: “I made the decision just after Ella was born to get myself a proper career. I had loved being pregnant both times and had been fascinated with the whole process.

“Holly was my community midwife with Charlie and all the way through with Ella, so we built up a very special bond. I had a water birth and it was perfect – I was even home after six hours!

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“Midwifery was the obvious choice after that and I was delighted when I was accepted onto the Master’s course at the University of the West of Scotland.”

Kirsty told her she fell in love with her course from the outset, adding: “I love it even more than I thought I would. The birth process is incredible and women just amaze me with their strength. How they can be sitting up in bed having tea and toast ten minutes after pushing out a human being. And there’s a lot less swearing than I thought there would be!

“It’s such an honor to be there alongside a woman at this time – it’s such a big thing in their life.”

Busy Kirsty plans to get through her Masters course over the next two years, while juggling two small children of her own and Heidi the nine-month old puppy.

She continued: “It’s definitely the job for me. It’s so special, being part of people’s stories. Yes it’s difficult with Ella and Charlie being so small but I will get there – I enjoy a challenge.”

Angela O’Neill, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Deputy Nurse Director, paid tribute to the health board’s dedicated midwifery team, saying: “Across NHSGGC we have more than 550 midwives who provide a crucial service to thousands of women every year, including delivering more than 12,000 babies. “With the support of our midwives we aim to give our students the best possible learning experience. Working closely with universities we enable current and future midwives to get the education they need to provide some of the best maternity care in the world and help ensure a flow of new midwives into the service.”

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Dr Claire Chalmers, Deputy Dean of the School of Health and Life Sciences at UWS, said: “We are incredibly proud of Kirsty and all of our amazing student midwives and are pleased to join in the celebrations on International Day of the Midwife. At UWS, we are one of Scotland’s leading providers of midwifery education and are extremely proud of our close partnership working with the NHS, which has enabled Kirsty and so many other UWS student midwives to make a real and positive impact on the lives of mothers and their newborn babies.

“As well as studying in state-of-the-art facilities, our students spend a lot of their time in clinical practice settings within the NHS as part of their practice learning experiences. It is inspiring to hear of Kirsty’s fantastic contribution to the NHS and to new mothers all while she’s still a student. ”



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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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