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'I wanted to support women through the transition into motherhood'

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Nicolette Peel talks about motherhood, midwifery, and her charity Mummy’s Star

Nicolette peel

Ruminating on motherhood, midwifery, and her charity Mummy’s Star, Nicolette Peel uncovers the beauty and struggle that the last couple years of her life have held.

Nicolette Peel, midwifery student at The University of Salford and chair of the charity “Mummy’s Star”, highlights two moments in her life as significant: the first time she was diagnosed with cancer and her first birth as a student midwife.

The latter struck Ms Peel as extraordinary because of the connection it afforded her with the woman in labour.

“To be there with her, coach her through it, and show her that she could do it was poignant,” she explains.

“I’ve had a wonderful life that I love. I wouldn’t change it even with everything that happened”

The former stands out as a crossroads. “I was scared the diagnosis would make me always fearful and worried,” she says. “But it hasn’t. I’ve had a wonderful life that I love. I wouldn’t change it even with everything that happened.”

Aside from having a deep significance in Ms Peel’s life, these two instances provide a roadmap for understanding it. They reveal her determination, devotion to helping women, and compassion as a mother and midwife.

Ms Peel was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and again in 2011, when her youngest of three children was only seven months old. She faced extreme difficulties in dealing with this diagnosis as the mother of young children. “The emotional impact of trying to juggle everything felt very severe,” she says.

“We started the charity to give women a place to talk to others going through similar experiences”

However, help came in the form of a friend. Ms Peel was introduced to a woman in a similar situation – Mair Wallroth – the two women confided in each other until Ms Wallroth’s death in 2007, and afterwards Ms Peel kept in contact with Ms Wallroth’s husband, Pete Wallroth. Finding solace in mutual understanding, Ms Peel and Mr Wallroth formed Mummy’s Star in order to develop a larger collective of supportive individuals. ”We started the charity to give women a place to talk to others going through similar experiences,” says Ms Peel.

Ms Peel describes her work with Mummy’s Star as almost equal parts rewarding and difficult. The charity has a strong and positive online community which is open to women at any stage of diagnosis who have just entered motherhood. “It’s very rewarding to put women who would usually be isolated into contact with each other,” she says.“But, frightening to watch these women live my worst nightmare. I feel like I’m fighting my demons on a daily basis, but it’s important to keep you heart open.”

Around the same time of the creation of Mummy’s Star, Ms Peel decided to begin her midwifery training. “I realised I wanted to support women through the transition into motherhood,” she says. Ms Peel also cites her midwifery courses as sources of growth and challenge. “Nothing could prepare me for my course,” she says. “It was tough. It changed me.”

“As long as children know that they are loved and secure, they can go through all kinds of hard things”

Clearly she has risen to the challenge, Ms Peel is graduating this December. Not only that, she has recently been nominated for University of Salford’s Woman of the Year award, and earlier this year the Royal College of Midwives offered her the President’s Volunteer Award.

Even after all her recent successes, Ms Peel identifies raising her three children – ages 12, 11, and five – “to be really kind individuals” as her greatest achievement.

To other mothers who are preforming a masterful balancing act, like Ms Peel has been for the past few years, she says: “Take it easy on yourself. We have a lot of ‘mummy guilt’, you know? But kids are resilient, as long as children know that they are loved and secure, they can go through all kinds of hard things”.

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