BRINGING a brand new life into the world is meant to be a beautiful moment, but sadly for some, it can traumatic and happen in horrifying conditions.
But a compassionate midwife by your side, doing all they can for you and your baby, can make all the difference.
Darcey Croft (C) was nominated by her daughter Delilah (L) and Rhiannon Lambert (R) alongside Wanda Warrington (bottom R) and Laura Mackie (top R)
These are the incredible health workers who are up for our Best Midwife gong at The Sun’s Who Care’s Wins awards.
Between them, they have supported bereaved families, mothers under incredible stress in Ukraine, and one even delivered her own grandchild by the side of the road.
The winner will be honoured at a star-studded awards ceremony hosted by Davina McCall and screened on Channel 4 and All 4 on November 27 at 6.30pm.
We’ve partnered with NHS Charities Together and The National Lottery to honour our incredible health heroes.
Here are our finalists…
MIDWIFE Wanda Warrington was on holiday in Madeira when news broke of the war in Ukraine.
She knew immediately she wanted to help – and started coordinating a fundraising effort from her sun lounger.
In a matter of weeks, Wanda, 55, who lives in Bury, Greater Manchester, was on the Polish border helping pregnant women fleeing the war zone.
It was meant to be a three-week trip but the mum-of-two and grandmother-of-five ended up taking a six-month sabbatical from her role as a specialist midwife for Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.
Wanda said: “My parents and grandparents are Polish so this was very close to home.
“I said to my husband, ‘I’m going to go’. I speak Polish and I have the medical skills.”
Wanda, whose Polish grandparents moved to the UK after surviving Auchwitz concentration camp, began volunteering at a humanitarian centre set up in a supermarket car park in the Polish city of Przemysl, close to the Ukrainian border.
She said: “Mostly, I just wanted to reassure women their babies were ok.
“The relief you’d see in people’s faces was amazing.
“I remember one pregnant lady who was Type 1 diabetic.
“She’d fled Ukraine with her three children and couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt her baby move.
“I used the doppler and you could see the relief in her face when I picked up the heartbeat.
Wanda travelled to Ukraine to help women deliver their babies as they fledCredit: Glen Minikin
“These women would cry and hug me. I didn’t think I’d done that much but it meant everything to them.”
Wanda returned home to her family in April when her three-week stint came to an end.
But she has since returned to Poland, having arranged her six-month sabbatical and now also helps with evacuations and aid runs in Ukraine itself, as well as her work with refugees.
Wanda said: “Going home didn’t sit right with me. My work here was not finished so I came back.”
Wanda has been living near the Polish border with husband Simon, 55, a product manager for renewable energy, who moved his office out there to support her.
He has set up a JustGiving page to help fund her expedition and it has since raised more than £14,000.
She has also spent thousands of pounds of her own money on aid, fuel and supplies.
Wanda said: “It sounds like a lot, but knowing the people we have helped, you can’t put a price on that.”
One of the women she has been supporting is refugee Fedyna Viktoriia, 24, who was pregnant when she fled Ukraine.
When she arrived in Poland, she feared the stress of the journey had caused a miscarraige, but Wanda was able to reassure her.
Fedyna said: “Wanda examined me every day – I was under her constant supervision and I felt so much calmer.
“Sometimes I would ask, ‘How could you leave your home to come here?’ And she just said she wanted to help people.
“ I didn’t think people like that existed. I thank God that I’ve met her.”
Fedyna gave birth to her son Lubomyr in May and he is healthy and well.
Wanda, who qualified as a nurse in 1989 before deciding to become a midwife in 1994, has been nominated by her eight-year-old granddaughter Amelia Chadwick.
She said: “My grandma deserves to win an award as she has helped to save lives in Ukraine.
“She is my biggest inspiration and a role model to all. I am so proud to call her my grandma but I cannot wait to have her back home.”
LILY Rolfe was devastated when she was told shortly after her 20-week scan her baby wouldn’t survive and she had to terminate her pregnancy.
She says she couldn’t have got through that traumatic time without the support of bereavement midwife Laura Mackie.
Laura has set up a specialist suite for women to deliver babies that are stillbornCredit: Oliver Dixon
Lily, 27, who lives in Whitchurch, Hants, said: “It was the most horrific, tragic experience of our lives.
“I had to give birth to our stillborn baby and leave the hospital without him in our arms, but somehow Laura made us feel safe.
“She gave us hope for the future.”
Lily, a nanny and sleep consultant, and husband Chris, 34, a farm manager, were thrilled when she found out she was pregnant in December 2020.
But at her 20-week scan, it was discovered their baby – a boy – was missing the inner matter of his brain and would not survive.
In May 2021, Lily had to deliver their baby – who they named Pip – at Basingstoke Hospital’s Butterfly Suite, a special unit set up by Laura for parents whose babies are born stillborn or die shortly after birth.
Lily said: “You can spend as much time with your baby there as you like.
Laura was amazing. She really goes above and beyond for her patients
“You can create memories with your baby, read to them, get them dressed.
“Laura organised a photographer to come in and take photos. She helped with organising the paperwork for the cremation.
“It is the most awful time and you don’t know how you’ll ever be ok again.
“Your body thinks the baby is there, your milk still comes in. You wake in the night and hear a baby crying. It is so cruel.
“But Laura was amazing. She visited us at home afterwards. She was available 24/7, whenever we needed her. She really goes above and beyond for her patients.”
Mum-of-four Laura, 42, from Thatcham, Berks, qualified as a midwife in 2003 and became a bereavement midwife six years ago.
She said: “Receiving news that your baby has died after carrying it for many months is devastating.
“As a bereavement midwife you can’t change what happened but you can have an impact and make a difference to the care the family receives when they come in to deliver the baby, and in the weeks and months afterwards.”
The Butterfly Suite relies on charity funding to keep going and Laura organises raffles and cake sales to maintain it every year.
She also set up a support forum called Flutterbies for parents who experience baby loss.
Through this, parents are offered free counselling after losing babies, something Lily and Chris were able to benefit from.
Lily said: “We received specialist counselling which otherwise would have cost £90 a session and we wouldn’t have been able to afford it.
“Laura understands parents need a space to talk about it and that the babies who die deserve to be remembered. She is a very special person.”
In March, Lily found out she was pregnant again and her baby is due in November – and Laura has been on hand to support the couple.
Lily also attends Laura’s weekly clinic for women expecting ‘rainbow’ babies.
Laura said: “It really is such a rewarding and privileged job to have.
“Even though you are with families at the worst time of their lives, you are also a part of their journey.
“I feel privileged to have been there for Lily and Chris and to have met Pip.”
DARCEY Croft was nominated by not one, but three mums, who say Darcey went above and beyond in her care and was there for them, day and night.
A specialist perinatal mental health midwife for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Darcey cares for pregnant women struggling with a range of issues, including anxiety, PTSD, OCD and psychosis.
Darcey has been nominated by three mums for her work as a midwifeCredit: Oliver Dixon
Darcey said: “I love my job. No day is ever the same.
“In the morning, I could be visiting temporary accommodation filled with drug users and trying to give antenatal care to a mum who is addicted.
“By midday I could be in a psychiatric unit and in the afternoon, a beautiful country house.
“But everyone has the same worries and struggles.
“My job is just to make it a little bit easier.”
Mum Rhiannon Lambert nominated Darcy for her support after she developed postpartum psychosis following the birth of her son Zachary, now two.
Nutritionist Rhiannon, 33, from London, gave birth to her son just weeks into the first Covid lockdown, in April 2020.
She said: “My husband was only allowed in for a few minutes when he was born and was sent out the minute afterwards. Then I didn’t see him for five days.
“In the months that followed I was hearing voices and suffering psychosis. It wasn’t picked up for a while. I thought it was normal.”
When Rhiannon, who was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, fell pregnant with her second child in November last year, she was referred to Darcey.
Rhiannon said: “She went above and beyond for me. I was scared to go back to the hospital but she took me on what is called an ‘exposure tour’.
“I suffered a panic attack going into one room so Darcey devised a birth plan that meant I didn’t have to go anywhere that triggered bad memories.
“She did home visits so I didn’t have to go to hospital as often. She works crazy hours.
“She said if I was ever struggling, to get in touch any time, day or night.”
I am so grateful to her for what she has done. I would never have coped without her
Her second son, Theodore, was born in July, and Rhiannon added: “It has been a healing experience for me, thanks to Darcey.
“She has been checking in on me ever since, even though it is not her job.
“I am so grateful to her for what she has done. I would never have coped without her.”
Darcey, 46, lives in Beaconsfield, Bucks, with husband David, 45, who runs a marketing agency.
Her own daughter, Madelin Bryans, 19, also put her forward for the award after she delivered her baby at the side of a dual-carriageway in April.
Madelin woke up in the early hours with bad labour pains so Darcey decided to drive her to hospital, but pulled over when she realised they wouldn’t make it in time.
Darcey said: “It was pretty nerve-wracking. No midwife wants to be delivering a baby at the side of the road at that time in the morning, especially when it’s family!”
After giving birth to Delilah Rose, now three months, both mum and baby were taken to hospital to be checked over before being allowed home.
Madelin said: “She is the best midwife in the world because she was able to set aside her feelings as a mum in an emergency on the side of a road at 5am and become a midwife for me when my baby and I needed her the most.”
Contact the Samaritans
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, contact The Samaritans on 116 123.
They are available for free at anytime.
Or email https://www.samaritans.org/