A Lurgan woman is the first in Northern Ireland to take up a new post to tackle alcohol misuse among pregnant women.
Dr Esther Reid has been appointed as alcohol liaison midwife by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.
Dr Reid, who has worked as a registered midwife, health visitor and practice education facilitator for the Southern Trust, will work with other services to develop a specialist midwifery service to identify and support pregnant women with alcohol misuse during pregnancy.
This work will include increasing awareness, support and teaching of staff within maternity services in relation to alcohol consumption in pregnancy, improved screening, development of a care pathway, appropriate interventions, on-going guidance and much more.
She said she was excited to take on the pioneering role.
“There is a lot of work to be done to improve awareness in relation to the effect of maternal alcohol consumption on the unborn baby and pregnancy is an ideal time for women to address unhealthy lifestyle issues,” she said.
“This post provides the opportunity to combine my experience in public health, midwifery and research to focus on an area which can improve long-term outcomes for mother and baby.”
Kieran Devlin, Southern Trust Impact of Alcohol Portfolio Manager explained how this unique job was created: “This post is part of the variety of projects included in the Southern Area Impact of Alcohol Portfolio which has a total of eight services covering all of our area. It has been funded through the Big Lottery Fund and will continue for three years. We are extremely happy to have these new innovative services in the Southern area and look forward to the positive impact they will have upon the misuse and abuse of Alcohol as well as building positive relationships between the Trust and the community voluntary sector.”
Joanne McDowell, the Big Lottery Fund’s NI Director, said: “We are delighted that the Impact of Alcohol programme is supporting community based projects that are playing a key role in tackling alcohol misuse.
“By working with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust we are building on existing experience and expertise in this area and using this funding to tackle the range of issues affecting people, families and the community.”
Patricia McStay, Southern Trust head of Midwifery/Gynaecology said: “The appointment of the first alcohol liaison midwife is significant step forward in addressing the hidden harm caused by maternal alcohol consumption to the unborn baby.”