I am over a month into my second year of midwifery and already busy with placement and assignments looming on the ever nearing horizon. It has got me thinking about this crazy journey I embarked on a year ago, how different I am , how much I have learnt and I thought I would share some with you.
- Keep up to Date: It really is easier to write your notes and do extra reading in the time given as independent study in the week of the lecture. In hindsight this would have made assignments and exams a lot easier in first year.
- You will doubt yourself: I have on more than one occasion. I have wondered what am I doing here?! This especially after particularly difficult shifts in clinical practise. However you have to remember you went through a thorough process to get on this course, you do deserve to be here and if you have a rough day, talk it through with your peers, it will help.
- It’s not a competition: I ended first year with only three deliveries after a placement on CDU where women would end up in theatre or with intervention. I had actually delivered five babies but two women had retained placenta which doesn’t count. People will tell you they are on delivery number 16 and you will panic but don’t. You have time. It really isn’t about how fast you get there because you have plenty of time to get that 40.
- Women are Strong: It really is incredible watching women go through labour and birth. Their bodies are strong, their minds are strong and there really is nothing better than having the privilege to be present at such a special time in their lives.
- You are strong: Your body has to adapt to shift work, there are times when you are physically and emotionally exhausted but you get through it and get up the next morning to do it over again.
- Being an advocate for women: This is so important and something that over the last year I have taken very seriously. As students, we have the unique position of being more one to one with women and can learn a lot more about their feelings and their concerns. I have voiced women’s concerns to midwives and doctors when the women feels she is unable to.
- You change: My life is vastly different to how it was a year ago, your personal life does sometimes take a backseat and that can lead to some sad situations as it has to me, however it is all for the better. You do become stronger on this journey, its hard to see the things we see and not change in some way.
- Having said that, Make time for non midwifery things: I have a close group of friends of over 10 years from school and I always make sure that I meet up with them even when it can be difficult when you are working a lot of weekends. Read a book not related to midwifery. Go for a run. Have a duvet day watching Netflix. You will need a break from midwifery.
- Express any concerns: Sometimes there are a small minority of mentors in clinical placement who couldn’t make it any more obvious they don’t want you there which can make a day extremely tough and make placement even harder than it already is. Don’t take it personally but do tell your AA, the trust link lecturer or the PEF. In these situations you need to consider your own learning and your own well-being as it can be very exhausting and unnecessarily stressful to feel ‘unwanted’ or ‘in the way’ for entire 12 hour shifts.
- How worth everything it is: You are knackered 24/7. You have the biggest pile of research to do. You have a stack of paperwork to fill out. In fact your TO-DO list is never ending. You are on your third night shift of the week and your brain is slowly shutting down when a woman compliments you to your mentor or you help a woman you have been caring for all shift give birth and you realise it is all so worth it. It is a stressful and extremely demanding job but it is also one of the most rewarding when you witness the difference you have made for a woman at such an important time in her life.
There are more than 10 things that I have learnt, and probably better than the ones I have written here, but I do have a lot of work to do! Mine may be personal to me so it would be interesting to read things other people have learnt as a student midwife or nurse!!