So I completed my first 3 weeks of university – and then it was literally straight out onto my first 4 week placement! I felt mixed feelings about going out on placement so quickly. 1) YES! Let’s get going this is what I’ve been waiting for! 2) This makes sense, there is an awful lot to cover in the next 82 weeks (not that I’m counting or anything) 3) But I don’t know anything yet!!
My first placement was allocated as community placement which I was really looking forward to (but must admit I was a little bit gutted I wasn’t going straight onto labour ward and straight into the thick of it with births and delivery and all the drama. I know, on reflection, this is very silly but I’m impatient). I also had absolutely no idea what on earth to expect (in my head I was picturing trundling around the country lanes of Lincolnshire with copious tea and cake in the car, popping in on new moms and checking their babies (but I wasn’t entirely sure of what the “checking” involved yet). I didn’t do a community placement as a student nurse in the military. We instead did a “military” placement where I was lucky enough to go to Headley Court and look after injured soldiers which, thinking back now, was 1 of the highlights of my nursing career (of which there were not many). I was also terrified of their expectation of me, as a qualified nurse, were they going to expect me to know all the stuff? Because I literally don’t know any stuff. I know nothing about babies or pregnancy – I don’t even know how to put a nappy on! Put me in resus in A&E and give me an adult patient with a cardiac arrest or sepsis or overdosing and I’m your gal! But not a baby or a pregnant lady. I think this may be an innate adult nurse thing – being terrified of these 2 patient groups! But also I was terrified that they were going to treat me like I knew nothing and be really patronising and not let me do anything or teach me how to take a blood pressure or something again. But I wasn’t sure which of these was worse.
So off I went (this is my shameless 1st day selfie):
… And it was amazing! There was literally so SO much to learn, like my poor brain was fried by the end of every day and I was in bed by 8pm every night exhausted. The majority of my shifts I spent in the midwifery clinic in the local community hospital with my mentors and the majority of the patients were antenatal. This meant I got loads of experience palpating, measuring fundal heights and listening in to fetal hearts. I was so so awful at all 3 of these things to begin with – like palpating literally felt like a big belly of jelly with bits floating around in it and I had no idea what was going on, what was a head or a bum, no clue. But by the end of my placement me and my mentors saw a vast vast improvement. I even managed to correctly diagnose 2 breech presentations when all of the healthcare professionals who had seen the women had thought they were definitely head down. One patient in fact came in especially to tell me, as she ended up having to have an emergency c-section as she was breech and no one had spotted it except me.
I did get hands on with lots of postnatal women and newborns too, but not as much as the way my shifts fell meant I was mainly in antenatal clinics the whole time and didn’t get out and about on many visits. The ones I did do I really enjoyed (mainly because I love nosing in people’s homes) but I was so so nervous about handling new born babies.
I told my mentor and she remedied this by getting me to handle every single baby we came across until in the end one family told me they thought that I had loads of kids as I was so deft at handling them. YES! (But also, I hope that they didn’t say this because they thought I look old.) I was also wee’d on by every single baby too, which my mentor found hilarious.
I think my mentors found it a challenge having a student midwife who was also a qualified nurse. I know that as nurse if I had a student working with me who was a qualified midwife I would feel really self-conscious and would worry about teaching them to suck eggs and being patronising. My 2 mentors handled this very differently and this has definitely taught me a lot about how I want to be as a mentor when I qualify.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to see any births on this placement which I was absolutely gutted about. I very naively thought I might get all 5 of my birth observations done while I was here so that when I get onto labour ward I can crack on with the good stuff. I went as far as putting myself on call every night in case 1 of the only 2 planned home births happened… Which they didn’t.
But, even though I didn’t get to see any births, I genuinely really enjoyed my first experience of being on placement as a midwife and I’m so so excited about my next one (labour ward come at me!). This is the 1st time in my life I’ve been able to say I love my job and the 1st time in my life I wake up in the morning excited to go to work instead of dreading it. Long may it last J
Find me on Insta at @thebabymidwife
Happy to answer any questions if anybody has any x