#WomenInLeadership: Lizzie Romain

Q&A - 12TH MARCH 2021

Lizzie Romain, a midwife at The Portland Hospital for Women and Children, on supporting women through childbirth, building rapport with families, and dealing with the bad times as well as the good

To mark International Women’s Day 2021, our #WomenInLeadership series celebrates the inspiring women here in the HSMA. Each day we will be publishing a Q&A with one of the remarkable women who make up our vibrant community of healthcare specialists.

Meet Lizzie Romain, a midwife at The Portland Hospital for Women and Children, the UK’s leading private maternity hospital.

Tell us a little about your role
I work as part of the midwife-led delivery (MLD) team, and we support low-risk women throughout their pregnancy and during and after childbirth. We see patients for all of their routine antenatal care, including ultrasound scans, blood tests and routine checks, as well as a meeting with a covering consultant who we call in for delivery in labour if problems occur. We see the women in our care at least every four weeks, becoming more frequent towards the end of pregnancy. When one of our patients enters labour, we aim to swap over to the labour ward so they have continuity of care during their entire maternity journey. We also meet patients being cared for by a consultant to discuss their medical history and answer any questions they may have about birth and their inpatient experience. Other appointments include pre-assessments, where we prepare women for their planned caesarean sections, and ‘meet and greets’ – which is the first point of contact for anyone who is considering midwife-led care at the Portland Hospital. I also work just under half my shifts on the labour ward and the postnatal floor. It’s great to be able to work in a variety of different areas!

What led you to a career in healthcare?
I just happened across midwifery as a course while exploring my options for university at age 16 or 17 and thought it was really interesting. I did some research, got some voluntary experience in a few Sure Start children’s centres in my local area, talked to a few midwives and thought, I think I’ll really enjoy this! The concept of pregnancy was fascinating to me and I loved the fact that you could make a difference, engage with families and assist in bringing new lives into the world.

What is the most exciting thing about your job?
Because I’ve now worked here for over four years, I am seeing families return on their second and third pregnancies. There was one woman who I provided a lot of continuity care for in her first pregnancy due to a medical condition, and when she came back through again, she asked whether I still worked here. She was due to come in for an induction of labour, so I swapped a shift to be able to look after her on the labour ward. That was amazing, and the family were so delighted! Another time, a woman went into labour earlier than anticipated and her partner was still abroad. It was only me and her throughout her whole labour, but we had such a lovely rapport – she’s someone I will always remember! It’s an absolute joy when you develop that rapport with families and get to be involved in such a special time in their lives.

What are some of the challenges you have faced in your career, and what are the highlights?
Sometimes you have to deliver difficult news to families, which is never easy. There are some situations I have been in that I will never forget – it is a very emotive job, and it is not one that you can easily switch off from at the end of your shift. The emotional baggage that comes home with healthcare workers can be a lot. I remember some mentors when I was a student saying that it gets easier over time, but I have never found this.

On the other hand, when you have a beautiful birth experience, you can go home feeling euphoric. I’ve joined in crying at many a birth, where the emotions are just contagious. Going to see the same woman a shift or so later with a baby in their arms is also beautiful, and it’s amazing to hear that you have made such a positive impact on their birth experience.

What would you tell other women who are just starting a career in healthcare?
It can be a very rewarding job, but also very tough! Emergencies happen, and you have to be good at being efficient yet calming in these situations. Sometimes you will think about a patient for days after your shift has ended – the best likeness I can draw is getting halfway through a book and then leaving it somewhere, and you don’t know what the ending is. Other days you really feel that you’ve made a difference. You have to be able to take the bad times along with the good.

What is the best advice you have ever received?
If you’re not sure about something, then ask. As a healthcare professional, regardless of how long you’ve been qualified, you will always come across situations that you have never experienced before. We get taught early in our student days to remain humble in light of this, and to remember to refer to the higher management team if something doesn’t appear to be ‘normal’. We are continually learning in one way or another!

Tell us something that your colleagues might not necessarily know about you?
I’ve got quite a creative background outside of midwifery, having been a dancer for 15 years, and a supporting artist for film and TV for the past five years, involved in over 60 different UK productions. I’m in the background of films such as the Bohemian Rhapsody, and I was a hand double for some of the clinical scenes in psychological thriller St Maud – drawing up and giving fake injections, and preparing medication trays. I am also a midwife advisor on set for film and TV, so making sure that the scene looks ‘believable’ and helping to instruct actors so that they look authentic in their actions: how to take off medical gloves, how to deliver a baby! I also produce and present my own New Music Releases radio show on Hayes FM 91.8, Thursdays 1-3pm. I love nothing more than discovering brand new artists and bringing their music to new listeners. I have always been an avid music fan!