A Day in the Life of Ronny Valenzuela Rodriguez, Midwife and Respectful Maternity Care Advocate 

3 July 2024

Ronny Valenzuela Rodriguez is a midwife from Chile who has played a key role in implementing the International Childbirth Initiative (ICI) 12 steps at Florida Public Hospital in Chile. The ICI provides clear steps for implementing evidence-based, respectful maternity care worldwide, focusing on the holistic interaction between the mother and baby, family, environment, health providers, and health systems. Ronny’s work reflects his passion for improving health outcomes and women’s experiences through prevention and enhanced quality of care. 

From an early age, Ronny knew he wanted to work in a health-related field. Initially, he considered studying medicine but soon realized that his true calling lay in improving health outcomes rather than treating illnesses. Midwifery felt right from the start, and he has never looked back. 

A pivotal moment in his career came during an internship at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. This experience expanded his understanding of midwifery and the potential for learning from international practices. Upon returning to Chile, Ronny spent 14 years in the private sector, where he transitioned from clinical work to management. In this role, he learned how to empower midwives with the tools they needed to excel. Despite the high cesarean section rates in Chile, he was determined to drive systemic change. 

An opportunity to make a more significant impact arose when Ronny joined Florida Public Hospital as the Midwifery Supervisor of Women’s Urgent Care. The hospital was founded on the principles of humanised birth but lacked a structured approach, which Ronny and his team achieved through the implementation of ICI. Today, Florida Public Hospital is the only facility in Chile implementing the ICI. Last year, the facility had 2,300 births and had one of the lowest rates of cesarean sections in the country. Florida Public Hospital now serves as a benchmark for other hospitals in and around Chile. 

This is what a day in his life looks like: 

I wake up at 6:15 AM to get my young son, Gustavo, ready for the day. After preparing breakfast, I commute to work using public transportation, listening to rock and metal music along the way. Music is a significant part of my life, and I also sing and create my own music. If you search for Ronny Modra you can find some of my creations.  

Upon arriving at the hospital, my first task is to check how the night went. I make sure the staff is prepared and equipped for the day’s challenges. It’s crucial that they have all the necessary materials and support to provide the best care possible. I also offer my clinical expertise in complex situations and keep the team motivated. 

Throughout the day, my office becomes a hub for various needs, from pharmacy requests to team support. I use these interactions to foster a positive work environment and address any issues my staff might have. Lunchtime is a communal affair, where my team and I discuss non-work-related topics to strengthen our bond. 

Afternoons are dedicated to planning, particularly contingency plans for when things go wrong. I believe these plans are key to our success. 

I am deeply involved in ICI meetings, where we continually plan improvements and discuss progress. To me, ICI serves as a compass, helping us measure our progress, understand what we are doing well, and identify areas for improvement. 

Every now and then, I also give presentations to the Ministry of Health, private industry, and other midwives about our work and the positive impact of ICI. These presentations are opportunities to spread the message of respected childbirth and encourage others to adopt similar practices. 

Being a man in a predominantly female profession initially worried me. When I started studying, I thought it would be difficult and uncomfortable. However, I realised that I have a unique advantage—I will never give birth myself. This forces me to pay the utmost attention to each pregnant woman’s needs and to treat every birth as a new experience. My goal is to provide the best possible care and ensure that all women experience respectful and humanised childbirth. ICI is an incredible tool to achieve this, providing women with positive birth experiences and a better start to life within an environment of strong emotional attachment. 

My favorite part of my job is receiving appreciation from my staff for effective organisation and support.  I miss clinical work, particularly the urgency of maternity care, but I find satisfaction in knowing I contribute to successful outcomes and respectful birth experiences. 

Before leaving for the day, I check in with the staff, answer any final questions, and make sure everyone is motivated and ready for the night shift. Then, I take public transportation back home, ready to spend time with my family. 

At home, I enjoy cooking and playing with my son. I make sure to bathe him every day, and then it’s time for my own relaxation—sometimes composing music, other times watching sports to clear my mind. I also prepare for the next day before getting some rest. 

In the long term, I hope to continue spreading the message of respectful childbirth and influencing hospital planning so that everyone in the health system shares the same objectives. I dream of taking on a leadership role where I can make significant changes in health policy and management. 

My journey in midwifery is driven by a passion for improving maternal and child health through innovative and structured approaches, where the outcomes are measurable and comparable. The work we are doing with ICI at Florida Public Hospital is setting a new standard for respectful maternity care in Chile and inspiring others to follow our lead, I encourage other midwives to learn more about this initiative and apply it their work.