A midwife who delivered countless babies during a career spanning nearly half a century is enjoying the start of her retirement.
Lorraine Dickinson bid a fond farewell to her friends and colleagues at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, 49 years after she started working in the borough’s hospitals.
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She said: “I have no regrets, none whatsoever. I have had a wonderful career.
“I think, as midwives, we are very privileged because we are there when families are created. We are there at one of the most important and memorable times in a couple’s life, especially when it’s a first-born, because those memories are so precious and you will never ever get them back.”
Mrs Dickinson, from New Springs, started work as a cadet nurse at Wigan Infirmary in July 1970 after leaving school.
She became a student nurse in 1972 and did three years of training, before moving to Billinge Hospital in 1975 to train as a midwife.
She thought she may return to nursing, but was persuaded to become a midwife after attending a home birth.
Mrs Dickinson said: “That was the first home birth I had been involved in and I thought it was an absolutely wonderful experience. I thought yes, that’s what I wanted to do.”
After qualifying in September 1976, Mrs Dickinson spent many years working at Billinge Hospital and in the community, before moving to the maternity department at Wigan Infirmary.
She says she has no idea how many babies she has delivered over the past 49 years.
It is not only the tots she has enjoyed caring for.
“It’s not just the birth, it’s looking after the mums and making sure that every mother has a good experience of the pregnancy as a whole,” she said.
Mrs Dickinson supported mothers throughout their pregnancies, giving them advice, helping them believe they can look after the baby and assisting with delivery.
She has seen many changes over the past 49 years.
She said: “It’s an enormous change, absolutely enormous. When I first went to Billinge in the 70s, the care of the ladies was very hospital-orientated. Nearly every woman was induced into labour. The induction rate must have been high because the plan of care then was to deliver as many ladies during the day when the consultants were about.”
She said mothers had to stay in hospital for much longer then, usually for seven days after birth or 14 days after a Caesarean section.
“The care now more is more centred around the woman and the family, it really is,” she said.
“It’s come from being hospital-orientated to being down to individualised care for the lady and the family. That’s what people want and what people need.”
Another big change is that woman are now awake for Caesarean sections, rather than under general anaesthetic.
Partners are also much more involved. Mrs Dickinson said that in the 1970s partners could only visit for an hour each day.
There have been many highlights during her long career, but she remembers one incident involving her husband Malcolm, to whom she has now been married for 41 years.
She said: “The first year we were married I was on community and it was a very snowy night. Of course this lady went into labour and I was the community midwife on call. I couldn’t keep all the equipment in the boot of the car otherwise it would be frozen, so my husband was running up and down stairs in his PJs carrying delivery boxes, loading the boot of the car up with his Wellington boots on in about a foot of snow. I found it quite funny but I don’t think he did!”
At the age of 65, Mrs Dickinson has decided it is it time to retire and looks forward to spending more time with her granddaughter, travelling and walking in the fresh air.
But she will miss working as a midwife.
“I have absolutely loved every minute of it. I have had some sad times unfortunately/
“But I have to say that it’s been a pleasure and a joy really. It’s not like going to work I don’t think, I have never really thought of it as going to work,” she said.