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Glasgow midwife looks back on 50 years of childbirth

Monday, November 16, 2020

After more than fifty years of nursing and midwifery, June Cavin can’t remember just how many babies she’s delivered, but it’s certainly in the thousands.

June (69) said: “Looking back, it’s been such a privilege to look after so many women at such a special time in their lives. Women are remarkable and every birth has been special in its own way.

“I am lucky in that I have always enjoyed my job. It’s only now looking back, do I realise just how much childbirth has changed since I started in the early 70s.”

June, who is originally from Enniskillen in Northern Ireland and now lives in Uplawmoor, first trained as a nurse in 1969 and has been a midwife since 1974. The majority of her career has been in Glasgow, firstly at Belvedere Hospital and more recently working in the southside communities of Pollokshields and Govan.

Looking back on her training, June remembers just how strict things were back in the Nurses’ Home.

June said: “All the girls had to be in for 10pm – no later and the nursing officer would come round and do checks. No exceptions and definitely no boyfriends to visit; it was all very regimented. Nobody dared step out of line!

“One of the most striking things is the change in how long women stay in hospital after giving birth. Back in the 70s it was a week for a ‘normal’ delivery and 10 days for a C section. Some women are able to go home after less than a day now!

“I can also remember when consultants did their rounds in the morning and the midwives would go around and plump up the pillows so the women were sitting nice and upright in their beds to ‘receive’ the doctor. The consultant would also have tea with the lead nurse at the end of rounds – all very quaint.

“It was always lights out at 10pm too and we would take the babies away to the nursery. And of course there was the two hour nap for mums in the afternoon too – undisturbed by babies. Now of course babies stay close to mum at all times to help with bonding – one of the things that has improved in time.”

Looking back, June also feels that the whole process of birth has become much safer over the years, with advances in technology and monitoring.

She said: “Women do much better in childbirth when they are relaxed and I have been a real advocate of using aromatherapy and reflexology. I’ve also found that when used, there’s a much better chance of a normal birth.”

And then there’s the babies who are in a hurry to arrive in the world….

June said: “Babies come when babies are ready and I’ve seen all sorts. Babies born in cars, in car parks, in lifts. The funny thing is that wherever you are born is recorded on your birth certificate – even if that does say a bus stop in Shieldhall Road!

“I’ve spent the majority of my career in the Southside, often in culturally diverse areas. I have very fond memories of doing antenatal classes with the support of an interpreter as most of the women spoke Urdu. It always had a really warm, community feel and the women would bring along delicious foods for us to share. I really miss that.”

June’s officially retires at the end of the month but still intends to ‘keep her hand in’ by doing the odd Bank shift.

She said: “I have so much to look forward to. My new grandson is only six weeks old and hopefully there will be holidays – when we are allowed to go again.

“As I look back on my career I have been very lucky. Not everyone enjoys their job but I have loved mine – great colleagues and so many special memories. You know it’s time to go when the hospital you trained in was pulled down years ago. What will stay with me is just how amazing women are and just what they are capable of.”

Senior Charge Midwife Sandra Taylor says June will be really missed: "June’s reputation precedes her with staff, students and patients alike.

“The battle cry from the patients is always ‘I thought I was getting June!’ “

ENDS

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Last Updated: 16 November 2020