Joy for South West Acute Hospital Midwife - Brenda McCabe wins Northern Ireland’s Emma’s Diary Mums Midwife of the Year 2019

on 05 February 2019 RCM Annual Midwifery Awards Caesarean Section Emma's Diary

Nominated by local mum Sarah Griffiths, Brenda McCabe has been honoured as Emma’s Diary Mums’ Midwife of the Year 2019 for the Northern Ireland region. The prestigious award is one of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Annual Midwifery Awards, recognising the incredible work done by exceptional midwives across the country.

Midwives play such a critical role in so many mums’ lives and the Emma’s Diary Mums’ Midwife of the Year Award enables them to pay a heartfelt tribute to their own special midwife who truly surpassed what was expected of them. 

As a mother with cerebral palsy who is a wheelchair user, Sarah frequently came up against a lack of knowledge and a resistance among health care professionals. Pregnancy with a physical disability is, as Sarah herself proclaims, “not the norm”.

Thinking there was no alternative, Sarah had an elected C-section with her first pregnancy but after meeting Brenda, when pregnant with her second baby, any feelings of stress and anxiety quickly vanished. Brenda’s attitude and approach were a breath of fresh air and Sarah was lucky enough to receive her care both in hospital and at the Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC) clinic that she ran.

Brenda fully supported Sarah’s desire for a VBAC and took time to give her all the information she needed, backed up by the latest evidence and best practice. Brenda empowered Sarah to see herself as any other pregnant mum and in the end, Sarah made the informed choice to have an elected C-section and her beautiful daughter, Daisy, was born.

Brenda is a huge advocate of the importance of supporting good mental health in families as well as offering breastfeeding support, which for Sarah was vital in bonding with her baby – especially as her disability meant she needed assistance with other areas of her baby’s care. Brenda has set up support groups locally and is currently looking into setting up a postnatal debriefing service to help parents through any trauma, protecting mental health further and in turn increase mother and baby bonds.

Sarah Griffiths who nominated Brenda for the award, explains: “Not only was Brenda completely unphased by any potential complications as a result of my disability but she went out of her way to research this with me and then assured me there was no reason whatsoever that my baby’s birth could not be an amazing, magical experience. Thanks to Brenda my second pregnancy and delivery was an exciting and completely relaxed, joyous experience. I had a plan to cover every eventuality and I knew no matter what, she was there for me.

Sarah continues: “Brenda delivers patient centred care at all times. Not only does she have mother and baby at the heart of her care but she is also meticulous in ensuring fathers are very much included and recognises their vital role in the whole process. Breastfeeding is one thing that only I can do for my baby and when suffering with the baby blues at one of Brenda’s postnatal visits, feeling disappointed over my baby’s weight, Brenda reminded me that I was a competent breast feeder and was able to help me reframe my thinking and focus. Brenda’s support and encouragement has meant that my breastfeeding journey has flourished, and I am now a peer support mum for the local breastfeeding group.”

On winning the award Brenda McCabe, Community Midwife Team Lead for the Western Health and Social Care Trust adds: “I feel privileged that a mum felt it fitting to nominate me for this award. It is a great honour and something I will cherish throughout my career. I would like to thank Sarah for her very thoughtful nomination as it took time and effort to do this at a point when Sarah would have been very busy looking after Miss Daisy and her brother Dexter with Sarah's husband’s, Danny’s support. Sarah is an amazing and inspirational person who never sees anything as a problem, she only sees solutions. I honestly believe that fate brought Sarah and I together.

“However, I have no doubt had any other midwife in my team had the privilege of meeting Sarah, they too would have provided the same care and attention that Sarah felt I had given. I am very lucky to have been a 'home grown' Western Trust midwife, starting my midwifery training within the Altnagelvin Hospital’s Maternity Unit in Derry/Londonderry and completing it in the Erne Hospital in Enniskillen. I have met many inspirational managers, mentors and colleagues who have made me what I am today. I can only accept this award as part of a team as its team work that enables effective midwifery care. I hope that this award will portray that the Western Trust is an amazing place to work with many opportunities to be rewarded both professionally and personally.”

Emma’s Diary, the UK’s essential support resource for mums to be and new parents, received a record 953 nominations from mums across the UK. All entries were put through a meticulous judging process by a panel of representatives from both Emma’s Diary and the RCM, culminating in seven regional winners.

The RCM’s Annual Awards, now in its 17th year, will be hosted for the first time by popular TV presenter Alex Jones on 5th March 2019. Mum of one, Alex, best known for hosting The One Show, is currently pregnant with her second child. Brenda will join the six other regional winners at a celebratory awards ceremony in London, where Brenda will receive her trophy and find out who is crowned the coveted national winner.

Faye Mingo, Emma’s Diary’s Chief Marketing Officer, comments: “This is now the fourth consecutive year that we have sponsored this award and the compassion and dedication demonstrated by these midwives continues to blow us away. We have yet again been overwhelmed with entries from mums nominating their extraordinary midwife for the pivotal role they played in their pregnancy and birth journey. Reading their stories is a truly humbling experience and we are so delighted for Brenda, who is so deserving of this extra recognition.”

Gill Walton, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, says: “This is a truly uplifting story with a wonderful outcome for Sarah and her baby. Brenda put Sarah at the centre of her care and focused on her needs and wishes. She empowered Sarah to make informed choices during her pregnancy and Daisy’s birth, using evidence based practice. I congratulate Brenda on this award, for her commitment, skill and passion for her work.”


Notes to Editors:

Emma’s Diary Mums’ Midwife of the Year Award – the judging process

Nominations were triple reviewed and a strict scoring system was applied to whittle down the entries to a shortlist of 6-8 per region, before the overall regional winner was announced. Attributes including aiding the strengthening of the bond between mother and baby, support for their emotional care and best practice in helping the mother feel involved and in control were all carefully assessed. In total seven regional winners were awarded from the regions London, South, Midlands & East England, North of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Emma’s Diary

Emma’s Diary is the UK’s essential support resource for mums to be and new parents. Offering advice and support on pregnancy and early post-natal information, via responsible and reliable content that is verified by our very own Healthcare Team (made up of GPs and Midwives) and supported by the RCM.

Emma’s Diary is an Alliance Partner of the RCM, continually working together to provide information and understanding to improve the health and wellbeing of expectant mothers and new families. 

Emma’s Diary supports every stage of the journey towards parenthood and beyond by making useful recommendations that match the ongoing needs of all new mums, helping to make the experience of motherhood a positive and reassuring one while offering peace of mind that any information given is medically verified.

Members of Emma’s Diary Parenting Club will also benefit from pregnancy and labour guides, great offers, discounts and free gift packs full of relevant samples to support their pregnancy and post-natal journey.

For more information visit or contact Emma’s Diary on 01628 522776 or [email protected].

The Royal College of Midwives

The RCM is the only professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources.

The Alliance partnership scheme develops relations with like-minded organisations who share similar values and goals. The partnership enables the Royal College of Midwives to promote our work and commitment to maternity professionals.

RCM Alliance Partners

Partners in the Alliance programme work hard to advance the interests of midwives and the midwifery profession. Shared ethics and ideas combine in dedicated support of midwives and all those touched by their care and the Alliance strives to enhance the wellbeing of women, babies and their families. For more information see our Alliance Partners section.

For more information visit the RCM website at