Congratulations to Sally McRae, winner of the 2019 ACT Midwife of the Year

Sally McRae is passionate about ensuring that the care midwives give birthing mothers is a positive experience that continues to have ramifications generations into the family.

“Women remember certain things said to them for the rest of their lives,” she said.

“The way they feel about the birth experience and their relationship with their baby at that critical time lasts for years to come. I think midwives are guardians of that space.”

Ms McRae, 48, a registered midwife at the Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce, was named midwife of the year at the 2019 Nursing and Midwifery Awards on Thursday 9 May 2019. She was humbled by the honour, the award presented by Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris.

“On some level, you don’t understand why because you’re aware of your own imperfections, “Ms McRae said, of receiving the award.

“Without appearing artificially humble, I really accept it on behalf of my team. Because I’m surrounded by so much excellence, I get inspired. From the new grad to the senior midwife, I am constantly inspired and learning things all the time.”

Ms McRae was a nurse before she took an 11-year break to pursue music, earning a bachelor of performance in piano. She started studying to be midwife through the University of Canberra at the age of 36. The seed for moving into that specialty was the care and support she received from her own midwife when her first child, Josiah, was stillborn 17 years ago.

She and her husband Gregg Stagg had three more children -daughters Fionn, 16, Kyla, 14, and Jessie, 10 – and each birth was a profound experience.

“It was about the midwife really seeing me as a person and I definitely felt empowered and just in awe at what my body could do,” she said.

Ms McRae has worked across the spectrum of midwifery, from delivering babies to helping new parents adjust through the Bringing Baby Home workshop, and also working as a lactation specialist.

“Sally’s commitment to improving a woman’s childbirth journey is evident through the education programs she conducts to enhance knowledge and resilience in midwives,”Ms Fitzharris said.

Ms McRae is also involved with research, in collaboration with Professor Jeanine Young of the University of the Sunshine Coast, into one day introducing Pepi-pods to Calvary Hospital. Pepi-pods are clear capsules which hold babies close to their mothers, particularly those mothers who have had a caesarean and may be on narcotics, while reducing the risk of the mother falling asleep on the newborn. Pepi-pods were originally used to keep babies safe in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake.

“We have ethics approval and are now waiting for the pods to arrive,” she said.


The story above was originally published in the  Canberra Times 11 May 2019