Bryony Barnacal

Bryony Split 1

Bryony was born in Gloucestershire, England before moving to Swansea, Wales at 18 to attend University. Despite originally studying Photojournalism, a trip to India prompted a change of career and began her midwife journey. Bryony now lives in Carmarthenshire with her husband and children and works as a midwife the local community.

Bryony states:

"While I started off studying photojournalism, I decided on a change as I felt my original choice did not give me the opportunity to help people as much as I wanted. I then found my true calling and passion in life when I discovered midwifery.

"In 2013 I decided to apply to study to become a midwife at Swansea University and qualified in 2017. I then started work with the Swansea Bay University Health Board, spending my first year working in the hospital, before being rotated into the community. I particularly enjoy the educational aspect of my work, as I can empower people and make positive changes towards their health, and the health of their unborn baby.

"Focusing on the health of the local community was exactly what I wanted to do with my career, but as a newly qualified community midwife and autonomous practitioner, I did find it a little scary at first - as I had to make all the decisions myself, with support from colleagues. I did this for a year and loved the experience, as I got to be with the women through their whole pregnancy journey, and meeting their babies once they were born is hugely rewarding.

"Following the births of my own children in 2019 and 2021, I decided to take a position closer to home in my local community. At the same time I was very fortunate to be given financial support from the health board to undertake a leadership programme with the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). I really appreciated how my employer invested in me to help progress my career and feel this extra education will hopefully develop my knowledge and skills to become a team leader in the future.

"I have also been able to build valuable networks and relationships with other midwives from across Wales as part of an RCM . It’s been an amazing experience and built on what I enjoy about being a community midwife, as well as developing my leadership skills.

"While I was originally brought up in England, I loved the Swansea area when I moved there to study at university, and particularly loved how close it was to the beach and the amazing social life. Once I moved to Swansea, I really felt the positive effects of living in Wales and never wanted to leave. It wasn’t just because it has some of the best beaches in the UK, it also has incredibly friendly, community-spirited people.

"If you love the outdoors, not only do you have the beaches, but you also have the amazing countryside and mountains, which I find great for exploring with my family. My parents loved Wales so much when they came to visit, they have moved here themselves and now live just 12 minutes away. While we enjoy the countryside, the major city of Swansea is just on our doorstep, with the capital city of Cardiff just an hour away.

"I have found everybody is really supportive of my goals and future career aspirations, and I have been supported towards everything I've wanted to achieve professionally – which has helped me grow my confidence in furthering my career.

"In the future, I hope to complete my Masters degree and become a team leader, which I have had to delay slightly due to the pandemic and focusing on my children. But as we have such good professional links with the universities, I know I can go back and complete it when I’m ready.

"Personally, I’d love to buy more land so I could have more animals. I think teaching children about sustainability and where their food comes from is an important skill to learn, and I love the idea of being somewhat self-sufficient.

"I’d absolutely recommend Wales to anyone who is thinking about training or working as a midwife. We are so lucky in Wales, as we are a small nation and can offer students the kind of personalised experience and training that a true midwife needs.

"Even though I was not brought up in Wales, I would now never want to leave here and will hopefully be here forever!"

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