Q&A with Kerry Radford, Retired Midwife

Nurse & Midwife Support Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator Celeste Pinney asked retired midwife Kerry Radford all about her career, practice, and advice for young midwives. Here’s what she had to say.

photograph of Kerry Radford, retired midwife


Tell us about your background. How long were you a midwife and what areas/model of midwifery care did you worked in?

My midwifery career began at KEMH Perth in 1975 and I finished working in 2021. My career spanned over 33 years, with time at home raising my young family during this time as well.

After completing my nursing training and grad year at Ballarat Base hospital, I travelled to Perth, Western Australian to undertake my midwifery training.  This was an amazing experience and is where I developed a deep passion for midwifery. My 33-year experience includes working as a midwife mainly at Ballarat Health Services and in recent years Barwon Health until retirement in 2021. 

One of the highlights of my midwifery career was working as a part of the Ballarat midwifery care group practice. This group provided women with a wide choice of birthing options including homebirth, hospital support and other complimentary services. 

In 2014, I travelled to Zimbabwe to volunteer as a part of the Cradle Project Maternity Worldwide, which provided education and blood pressure monitoring to detect pre-eclampsia in women at rural antenatal clinics. 

I have been fortunate enough thought-out my career to work in Darwin and complete short stints in Katherine, NT. I thoroughly enjoyed these experiences and learning about the individual needs of the indigenous Australian. 

In 2012, I was honoured to receive the Irving Buzzard Award which acknowledges clinical and theoretical excellence in midwifery. 

I have also been privileged to be present at three of my daughter’s births.

Why did you decide to become a midwife?

Upon reflection, my upbringing played an important role in my decision to be a midwife.  I grew up in a rural community on a small farm surrounded by large families. In nursing training, I witnessed my first birth which influenced me to pursue my midwifery training. Once I started my training my passion for the work was evident and I knew I had found my career.

There are many highs and lows working as a midwife. What kept you going through the challenging times?

Through challenging times, I found the sharing of experiences with peers helpful and supportive. As a midwife and a mother, I knew the importance of my work, and 
and each birth I walked into I would remind myself that it was one birth one family at a time, and that is where my focus on presence was required. Self-care is also imperative.

If you could use one word to describe what it was like to be a midwife, what would that be?

The one word I would use to describe what it was like to be a midwife is humbling. You can be skilled and experienced in your practice as a midwife, however you cannot fully know how the journey will unfold. For me even to this day birth still holds the element of the mystery and the unknown. Therefore it is important to remain open to each woman’s unique experience. 

The philosophy of midwifery is to be “with woman”. What attributes or qualities did you draw on within yourself to help you be present with woman, even through busy and pressured moments of time?

The qualities I drew on within myself were patience, being kind, listening and clear communication. I found these attributes necessary to create a calm environment for the women and allowed me to be adaptable to changes when the situations required. Developing your skills and intergrading the learning from each birth also helps to build resilience to navigate busy and pressured moments. 

Could you please share with us one experience that stands out in your time working as a midwife? 

 Working within a caseload midwifery model of care was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my midwifery career. Working with a woman throughout her continuum of care from pregnancy to postnatal I found had a positive impact on the woman’s experience. This holistic model allowed you to build in-depth relationship with the women, and as such be able to understand and address her individual needs, desires, and concerns. This was a time of great fulfilment in my career, as it expanded my midwifery knowledge, and I was also able to be a part of a team that established a new model of care for the women in our area. 

Why do you think midwifery is such an important profession?

I feel midwifery is an important profession because midwives have the knowledge skills and responsibility to provide safe and appropriate care for each woman and baby. A woman’s experience and how each baby is born matters, and plays a vital role in the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing of the women and her family. 

If you could give one piece of advice to student and graduate midwives, what would you tell them?

Midwifery is a valuable and vital profession. Your knowledge, skills and care make a true difference to each woman, her baby and family. Valuable experience can be gained with student or graduate mentoring placement in a homebirth or a midwifery group practice. 

Thanks for sharing your insights with us Kerry!

If you’re a midwife, nurse or student and need someone to talk to, we’re here for you — free, confidential, 24/7, Australia-wide. Call 1800 667 877 or email us.

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