HEALTH: My pandemic baby inspired me to become a midwife

Kirsty Johnstone with baby Ella. She is now studying to become a midwife.

By Lucy Ashton

A young woman has embarked on a career as a midwife, after being inspired by her own experience of childbirth and the care she received.

Kirsty Johnstone (28)  is juggling her first year midwifery studies at University of the West of Scotland (UWS), with being mum to Charlie (3) and Ella (1).

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

Today  is International Day of the Midwife, an opportunity to celebrate the role of theses dedicated health professionals who help most of us enter the world.

Pre-pandemic, Kirsty worked as a travel agent and worked for a small company in Glasgow specialising in world tours.

Kirsty explained: “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.”

After her daughter was born in August 2020, Kirsty started her maternity leave before being furloughed again in 2021. Kirsty 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!

“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 loved her course from day one and is now certain she made the right choice.

She said: “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 honour to be there alongside a woman at this time – it’s such a big thing in their life.”

The plan for Kirsty is to get through the next two years of her Masters, while juggling two small children of her own and Heidi the nine-month old puppy.

Kirsty added: “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, Deputy Nurse Director for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “Across NHSGGC we have more than 550 midwives who provide a crucial service to thousands of woman  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.”

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  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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