Posted Friday 26 May 2017
A former Kingston University student midwife has been recognised for her exceptional work in helping parents overcome the life-changing experience of losing a baby by winning a Health Star Award courtesy of ITV's Good Morning Britain.
Hosts Piers Morgan and Susana Reid presented Lydia Baker with the award, which was launched to acknowledge those who have gone beyond the call of duty. Lydia was nominated by a new mother who had previously suffered a stillbirth, for giving her and countless others the emotional support and specialist care in their following pregnancies.
"It's amazing to have been given the award – all for a job that I love. I will cherish it, but ultimately it is dedicated to all the women and families that have needed the support during their darkest moments and gone on to have their rainbow babies – the term given to babies born to parents after experiencing a previous loss," she said.
Suffolk born Lydia studied at Kingston University from 2003-2006, after taking up a place following positive recommendations from friends. "I got accepted to quite a few midwifery schools but Kingston University stuck out for me. The opportunity to go on placement at some great hospitals nearby was a strong incentive."
Having worked at Epsom and St Helier Hospital for 14 years, Lydia's journey into the field of bereavement midwifery began when she was a student midwife. "I was 19 years old and on a placement. I helped deliver a baby that was sadly, born in poor condition. The baby died the next day and I was absolutely devastated. The family invited me to the funeral and ever since then I've had an interest in helping women who have experienced loss in their subsequent pregnancies," she said.
Lydia took on the role of caring for bereaved families along with working as a labour ward coordinator, by reassuring women who had suffered miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of a child. Two years ago, St Helier hospital launched a dedicated bereavement midwifery service, with Lydia at the helm providing families with immeasurable support.
"I saw a gap in the market. For women experiencing another pregnancy after suffering a loss, at whatever stage of gestation, there are extra fears. Often, these women struggle to believe they will take a baby home in their arms. My job is to listen to those fears and be there for them whenever they might need some professional advice – from day one to delivery."
Professor Jayne Marshall, the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education's Associate Dean for Practice Education and Workforce, has praised Lydia's achievements. "Lydia's work as a bereavement midwife is an example of the high quality, compassionate and holistic care all childbearing women should expect to receive from midwives regardless of their circumstances," she explained.
Lydia is currently teaching others the skills needed for this challenging yet hugely rewarding area of midwifery, including stints as a guest lecturer at Kingston University. "Kingston University continually produce a great calibre of midwives with the placement system being a brilliant opportunity to get ready for life on the wards," she said. "It is an honour to go back to the university I trained at and share my experiences, especially one that has such a positive reputation among hospitals and trusts in the local area."
Following the spotlight on her award, Lydia now hopes to show that compassion and kindheartedness will always be the fundamentals of her job. "I encourage young midwives to not shy away from showing emotions," she said. "As human beings it is natural to feel somebody's happiness or sadness. Our job is unique – we get to witness the full spectrum of life."