There’s a lovely atmosphere in the hospital at Christmas

Midwife Claire Lynch.
Midwife Claire Lynch.

Clare Lynch has been a midwife for 15 years.

It’s essential that the doors of the labour ward are open for all those babies who are coming in time for Santa. Clare worked the Christmas Eve night shift this year.

“I’m the Sister on the labour ward. I co-ordinate the shifts, allocate who looks after who and what happens on the floor.

“I also organise who’s next to come to labour ward and if there are any emergencies I take the lead in that situation.

“It’s about co-ordinating it all and keeping everything moving. It’s a busy place.

“Every day is completely different and you never know what’s coming through the doors.

Clare has two children herself, aged 11 and 8.

“I was a midwife when I had Conor and Emer. That all goes out the window. You forget about everything and you just want to be treated like any other first time mum. It didn’t put me off, but it didn’t make me broody either!

“To be a midwife I think you have to be a really caring person. I think that’s really, really important. It’s irrelevant if you have children or not. It’s the person inside.

“You need to be someone who can think on your feet, things change very quickly. It’s not about glory. It’s about looking after people, that’s the bottom line, and making sure everyone’s safe.

“When I finish a shift I always think ‘Thank God everyone is grand.’ Anything can happen.

“It’s essential that someone’s there. Christmas can be as busy as any other day.

“We try to have it a wee bit different that day.

“The last time I worked Christmas Day was two years ago, I did the late shift from 1.30pm to 8pm. The snow was really bad, and because of where I live I had to leave a lot earlier. We did Santa, had breakfast and I more or less left and wasn’t back to later that night. It’s hard, but it’s part of the job and as long as it’s fair and everyone takes turns, it’s ok.

“I feel bad working it. But it’s part of the job I do. It’s like working nights, bank holidays, weekends, or everyone is going out on a Friday night and I’m going to work. You just accept it’s part of the job.

“My children mind more than anything that I have to work it, but they know that someone has to go to work, someone has to deliver babies and look after people.

“Usually they are so excited and they ask as soon as I come back, how many babies today?

“My husband works Monday to Friday so he is there at Christmas no matter what. There is a nice atmosphere in the hospital, around Christmas time.

“Even if it’s busy you try to make it a bit different. Usually you try to have less planned things, like inductions. We always have lots of nice food and we do a room up with decorations.

“In Altnagelvin we usually have a Christmas baby, and the Christmas baby goes into a special cot which is all done up and they get a wee present. It’s always big excitement.

“In Northern Ireland they always ring around all the maternity units to see who gets the first Christmas baby.

“There’s always hope for a wee baby to come into the world a few minutes after midnight on Christmas Eve because sure as anything Belfast will be ringing asking have we had a Christmas baby yet? It’s like a competition even though there are no prizes or anything!”