MEET NICKY GRACEAn independent midwife giving personalised care
My interest in birth began when I had my first child, Tom, as a young mother at home in 1986. Because it was my first baby, my doctors were very against home birth. I had a deep instinct that I should give birth attended by midwives in my own home. This instinct was reinforced by reading I did around that time – one of the most influential texts for me was ‘Birth Reborn’ by Michel Odent. I have no idea how I gained the strength, but I rejected my doctors’ attempts to coerce me and was supported to a straightforward home birth with lovely midwives. It was a few years later that I began my midwifery training in 1997 as a mature student. I never lost my belief that birth at home, undisturbed, is the safest way of birth for many women.
I worked as a midwife in the NHS from 2000 – 2006, first in hospital settings and then for two years as a community midwife. In 2006 along with two dear colleagues (Kerri-Anne and Andrea) I set up an independent midwifery practice, Notts Independent Midwives. This way of working allowed me to practice true continuity of midwifery care, and was also a good way of allowing me to work flexibly around my growing young family as I had two more children, Leo and Jack. I was greatly helped in this by my supportive husband, Simon.
Thank you to Amy and Alex Stanhope for the photos of me taken on an antenatal visit before Sorcha’s birth, enjoying reading to big brother Teddy.
A couple of years down the line I set up my own practice, Grace Midwifery Ltd, working with local IMs to back each other up. Since then, I have had the privilege of accompanying many clients and their families on their journeys of pregnancy and birth. Now my own children are grown up and have flown the nest, and I have adorable grandchildren so I still relish the flexibility that independent midwifery gives me, allowing me time to spend with my grown children and grandchildren.
Although I am passionate about women having physiological births, I also have a great interest in research. I gained a Masters in Research Methods (Health) in 2011, and alongside my independent midwifery, have worked on maternity research ever since, including studies into delayed cord clamping for preterm birth and induction of labour for older mothers, among many others. The latest project I was involved with was a systematic review supporting keeping mothers and babies together during the COVID-19 crisis.
As well as my work as an IM, and family commitments, I am a committed activist for birth. I helped set up and still co-facilitate the Nottingham Home Birth Group, one of the largest and most active home birth groups in the UK. I edit Midwifery Matters, the magazine of the Association of Radical Midwives. Oh – I am also (somehow!) doing a part-time PhD in Creative Writing with the University of Nottingham, writing a memoir and exploring life writing about midwifery and birth.