In her first blog as midwifery editor, Anna reflects on how her course has shaped her both as a person and as a midwife
I am 6 weeks into my final year as a student midwife.
I wrote that mainly for my own clarification. I am here. We have made it. There’s only one year to go.
It would be an understatement to say that the thought both excites and petrifies me. Dissertations and deadlines are already topics of conversation that linger in the air under hushed voices - dare she that even mentions the thought of an interview.
But beyond the academic planner and the avoidance of assessments and the various hurdles that stretch out before us, it is worth acknowledging that my peers and I are already fully fledged third years, thrown into the deep end of complex and tertiary central London maternity units.
”It’s semi-miraculous to even make it through a 12.5 hour shift without feeling slightly hypoglycemic”
I’m not quite sure how we’ve made it to this point.
It’s semi-miraculous to even make it through a 12.5 hour shift without feeling slightly hypoglycemic, let alone to make it through two years of them with exams and a definite lack of finances thrown into the mix, and to still be standing up by the end of it. (By the way, I’m sure the downfalls of 12.5 hour shifts will be a running theme in my blogs!)
I used to lead an average Dorset life, where my main outcomes for the day were procrastinating and/or watching Come Dine with Me.
Now, almost 21, I spend the majority of my time with pregnant, laboring, or postnatal women and their families, which involves a lot of awkward positions on the floor, trying to listen to the fetal heart or to look at a woman’s vulva with a mirror.
”To find myself here, attempting to lead care for women at such an intimate time, remains surreal”
Last week I spent a good few hours leaning into a pool every 15 minutes to auscultate, whilst a doula sang softly in my ear. To find myself here, attempting to lead care for women at such an intimate time, remains surreal. I catch myself in the mirror (not the vulva one) and double take - who is this exhausted, sweaty person in scrubs?
I think one of the reasons why the midwifery degree is three years long is because it takes at least two years to break your crocs in and decide what sort of midwife you would like to be.
The moment when you start to find who you are, and where you would like to belong, marks the moment of transition from student to autonomous practitioner.
”Even if I am slightly taken aback by my reflection in the mirror as I wash my hands, I know that this is who I am”
There’s this headstrong determination that you will get there, that no matter what the handover board throws at you or how little sleep you have had, you are going to become the midwife that you envisage.
Even if I am slightly taken aback by my reflection in the mirror as I wash my hands, I know that this is who I am. I want to be the hungry and tired third year washing liquor and blood off her skin, because I want to be the person who just delivered a woman’s first child, who looked into her eyes and said gently “you did it, well done” as her daughter takes her first breath.
Outside the ward is packed and nobody has had a break yet, but in here, in the humid, birthy sanctuary of this room, I’m okay. We can deal with reorganising the NHS another day.