I’ve just finished a mammoth 3 nights on call and I’m shattered. It was up for every one of them, you could say we’ve been busy in our little team. I don’t think you realise how exhausting this job can be when you’re training to be a midwife, I certainly didn’t. Back then when I was a naive 21 year old, the only person I had to get up and dressed in the morning was myself and that was sometime a chore (especially if we had been out to Vodka Revolutions the night before, Vodka and a mixer for 50p, bargain!) Now I have to co-ordinate my shifts with my husbands work schedule, throw 2 children in the mix and it sounds like a recipe for disaster. But we somehow manage.
I often get asked ‘why did you become a midwife?’ and others ask what the training was really like. Programmes such as ‘Call the Midwife’, ‘One Born Every Minute’ and ‘The Midwives’ have increased the public’s knowledge of what midwives really do and according to The Royal College of Midwives the number of applications for starting a midwifery degree has shot up! This is excellent as there is still a national shortage of midwives.
Kathryn over at The Vintage Midwife shares her views on midwifery training and why she loves her job despite the long hours and hard work.
‘I was recently contacted by someone who wants to be a midwife and I have been wondering what to say to her. Midwifery training is incredibly popular at the moment, no doubt thanks in part to Call The Midwife and One Born Every Minute. I have lost count of the number of people who have said to me ‘I would love to do your job…’ with a wistful look in their eye. At our local university over 1,000 people applied for the 50 spaces available on the next Midwifery course.
But I wonder if there is any other job that is so romanticized and where the harsh reality of life on the shop floor is so different to what we hope for?
I don’t think people always fully appreciate the enormous RESPONSIBILITY that you have as a midwife. At times it can feel overwhelming. You are responsible not only for the health and safety of that woman but also for her baby. You may be responsible for a baby dying or being severely disabled. Just let that sink in for a moment, it’s quite a big deal huh?
Sometimes, despite the best care babies can be born in an unexpectedly poor condition and I know of several very good midwives that have been involved in these tragic cases. This involves investigations, court cases, a very hard and long process before their name is cleared.
Childbirth is a natural, normal function that is a momentous event for a woman and her family. But in the litigation fearing, policy following, hugely overworked, overstretched and understaffed NHS then this can often feel lost.
The heartbreaking fact for midwives is that if you have only 15 mins per antenatal appointment, have to do 13 postnatal visits in a morning, look after 10 women and babies on a postnatal ward, catch 3 babies on a night shift then you just simply can not give the care that you know these women and babies deserve. Meanwhile you are answering endless phone calls, buzzers, doorbells, doing reams of paperwork, hunting for missing equipment, mopping blood up, chasing social workers, teaching students…
All of this in a twelve hour shift without time even for a wee and only a handful of Quality Street to eat all day. Working loads of weekends, night shifts, Christmas Day, New Years Eve. Still want to do it? Have I put you off yet?
I decided I wanted to be a midwife when I saw a baby being born whilst training as a student nurse, fresh out of school. I was just 18 and it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Like a magic trick, a baby appearing out of a woman’s body. I have lost count of the number of babies I have seen born since then, it must be several hundred. And do you know what? I still find it as exciting as that first time I saw it. When you see that tiny scrap of hair, that new life emerging, knowing that you are the first person to see this new person, it never loses its thrill.
Yes it’s hard work and nothing like the ‘lovely’ job people often imagine it to be but I still want to be a midwife.’