A MIDWIFE who helped care for the newborn babies of princesses, music stars and actors, and other exhausted mums who just needed time to themselves, is now offering her unique service in Cork.
Michelle Kelly worked as a maternity nurse in London for a decade, during which time she worked with the likes of singer Dido, Rollo from Faithless, actress Emelia Fox and the Princess of Kuwait.
A maternity nurse is someone who helps new parents with everything from feeding to napping to establishing a routine. It’s a relatively commonly used service throughout the UK and the U.S, but it’s still a very new phenomenon here.
It’s certainly one Michelle wished had been available to her when she was mum to three babies under 18 months, and now she wants to share her expertise with Cork mums so they won’t burn out during those intense first three months of their baby’s lives.
From Ballincollig she moved to London in 1999 to study midwifery and after graduating in 2003 she began working as a maternity nurse.
“I was the youngest in my family, I’ve an older brother and sister, and I always wanted a younger sibling. I was babysitting from when I was 14 and was always basically looking for babies to mind! So this was the perfect job for me!”
Typically, she committed to giving three months to each of her clients, and she would work with several at the same time.
“What it involved was me going to their homes for a few hours in the morning or evening. Some mums would literally be waiting for me at the door, and they’d really appreciate the luxury of being able to go off on their own with just a purse and not the buggy, the nappy bag and all the rest.
“They might go to a yoga class or get their nails done. Others would maybe take the chance to grab a shower, or a nap, or visit elderly relatives without a crying baby. It varied, but what they all had in common was that they wanted peace of mind to know that they were were leaving their small baby with a trusted professional, an experienced nurse who had delivered hundreds of babies,” she said.
Michelle was fully booked up for the entire decade she worked as a maternity nurse in London, and in many cases mums booked her services in their third trimester before they even gave birth.
But her plan was always to return to her native Cork, and she came home in 2014 aged 38. Shortly after, she met her partner Michael Ryan, a farmer from Dripsey, and in 2016 they became parents to Matthew.
That’s when the real fun started!
“When he was just nine-months-old, he wasn’t even crawling, I found out we were having twins! We had planned on growing our family by one, so this was a surprise.
“I had looked after hundreds of babies, including lots of twins, and I knew I could cope but it was still a bit to take in,” remembers Michelle, who was 42 at the time.
In December, 2017, she gave birth to healthy girls, Jessica and Isabella, when Matthew was 17-months-old.
At this stage the family was still living in Ballincollig and Michael was over and back to his farm in Dripsey, especially during calving season, leaving Michelle doing lots of 12-hour shifts with her three small babies.
She remembers how she was well able to cope will all the big challenges of that time, the feeding, napping, etc, but it was the little things that she found tough.
“Things like just popping to the shop to get bread took so long, getting them all in the car, driving to the shop, then arriving they might all be asleep, or loading them into the triple buggy. It was the logistics of things like that. Not even being able to even get a 10 minute walk on my own.
“I wanted to have someone like me to help! I loved my babies but I’m a great believer in the phrase ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’, which was the case.”
Michelle had done some maternity nursing when she first returned from London and now that her kids are in pre-school and she has a little more flexibility she’s back offering her nurturing, professional support and education to parents.
She has an added passion for babies who suffer from Reflux/CMPA and feels that many new mums are told by medics that their baby has colic, and that it’s just something they’ll grow out of.
“In my opinion, if a baby is screaming for hours, in many cases I think it’s more likely to be silent reflux or CMPA (cows milk protein allergy). Of course I’d always advise my mums to get medical advice, but a baby should not be screaming for hours on end, or vomiting, just because of trapped wind.
“I was speaking to one Cork woman recently who told me she was driving around at 2am trying to get her screaming baby to sleep. I want to be able to help women before they get to this point, before they’re burned out.”
For more information, email Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org Instagram at maternity_nurse_cork
They might go to a yoga class or get their nails done. Others would maybe take the chance to grab a shower, or a nap, or visit elderly relatives without a crying baby. It varied.