We celebrate International Day of the Midwife

A woman holds a newborn baby in her arms
Alicia Pearce, Maternity Unit Manager with newborn Angelina at Rockingham General Hospital
May 4, 2018

This International Day of the Midwife, we sat down with Alicia Pearce to discover more about her role as the Maternity Unit Manager at Rockingham General Hospital.

What does your role entail?
As the Maternity Unit Manager I lead a team of more than 80 midwives and manage the labour ward, maternity ward, antenatal clinics, visiting midwifery service, parent education and neonatal unit at Rockingham General Hospital.

Where did you complete your training?
In 1994 I originally trained as an enrolled nurse and then went on to do registered nursing at Princess Margaret Hospital. Following this, I trained as a midwife in 2003 at King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH).

Why did you decide to become a midwife?
I actually wanted to be a teacher; my mum worked in the WA School of Nursing building and decided I should be a nurse. I loved it from the first day and could not see myself doing anything else.

I went on to do midwifery as I have always wanted to live in the country and thought midwifery would be a good asset. I never thought I would love midwifery, but now I can’t imagine going back to nursing.

Outline your career progression in midwifery.
As an enrolled nurse I worked at Silver Chain and did some agency nursing. When I decided to convert my registration to a registered nurse, I worked as a private nanny as well as agency nursing shifts. It was the children I looked after as a nanny that really motivated me to aim for a job at Princess Margaret Hospital. I worked as a surgical paediatric nurse for two years and then went onto study midwifery at Edith Cowan University and through KEMH.

I stayed at KEMH after my student year and started the graduate program, working as a team midwife before becoming a core staff member on the postnatal wards. While I was at KEMH I held several roles including Clinical Development Midwife for Postnatal Wards and Adult Special Care Unit, A/Discharge Coordinator, A/Hospital Clinical Manager and A/ Clinical Midwifery Manager.

I started at Rockingham General Hospital in late 2014 as the Maternity Unit Manager.

What does your typical workday involve?
I do not have a typical work day. My aim is to manage the unit rosters, staffing, supplies, liaise with the multidisciplinary team and maintain a standard of care. Although this is my job, my priority is safe effective care for our patients, if this means rolling up my sleeves on labour ward or the ward, then that’s what I do.

I have had the pleasure of delivering many babies at Rockingham General Hospital and hope I can continue to be an active midwife in the unit.

What is your favourite part of your job?
I love seeing families come together, in the moment their child is born, when nothing else in the world matters.

Tell us about a particularly touching experienced in your line of work.
Definitely being part of my family’s births has been really special to me. I have been part of the birth of my sister and brother’s first children and delivered my great nephew Freddie (almost at home) just recently.

My niece was almost fully dilated when I got to her house and did not know it; luckily her waters were not broken as that was all that was holding him in. After a very quick ambulance ride, he was born safely at KEMH.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I spend most of my free time with my husband and two young boys Jackson (12) and Cooper (9) and all the sports and fishing that come with having boys. We camp a lot and love the outdoors.

I also spend quite a bit of time crocheting. I learnt crocheting from my nanna many years ago and have just recently taken it back up.

We have had five new additions to our family over the last few years so I have been busy making blankets, beanies and booties for all of them.

I’d like to say I am a MasterChef but I’m not, although I absolutely love to bake. Baking is the one thing I do for stress relief and the midwives make sure I am just the right level of stressed so they can reap the rewards of the baking!

If you could take three things onto a deserted island, what would they be?
Endless wool and a crochet hook, my family and my dogs.

What do you hope to see happen in nursing and midwifery in the future?
Midwifery and nursing evolve constantly. I would like to see the traditions and culture of midwifery continue as a woman centred practice, with the woman being the centre of all the decisions and education.

It is important to recognise the application of hands on midwifery in the setting of childbirth. University education plays a huge role in providing midwives and nurses with the knowledge, however, in my experience, hands on in the workforce provides the greatest experience.