Sunday, 25 July 2010

Week Three and a lot to tell

I finished week two with a couple of really quiet shifts and my last shift with my mentor before she went on her holidays. I glanced through my upcoming shifts and saw that I still wasn't getting any regularity with who I was working with so come the Monday I was starting to fret about getting my book signed off. Over the course of the day, I felt a bit more and more like a spare part and it didn't help that my colleague had both her mentors sit down with her, to go through her book. A chance comment from one of the night shift coming in and before I knew it I was crying. Thankfully I got it under control but it was just pure frustration. I just wanted to learn, and I wanted the learning I had done to be recorded and guidance for what I needed to do next. Thankfully as a result I was sorted out to be working the next two days with the same person, and also given guidance from a third year student about how to get my book signed off even when working with someone different every time.

So although the Monday was very emotional for me, the rest of the week was far more positive. I had no labourers or births on the Tuesday but my "new" mentor worked with me and sat with me to go through my book. I felt so much more positive than the day before. Wednesday was a continuation of this and I felt so much more confident about my own abilities again. I felt more proactive in my learning, and that I was being listened to.

Saturday could not have been more different from the previous Saturday where we had sat and cleaned the desk area as we'd been so quiet. Overnight there had been four deliveries and the bays were all full. I jumped at the opportunity to support a couple in labour and it was a fantastic experience. The mum had wanted an epidural but as delivery suite were so busy, it wasn't an option. Upon assessment we felt that she would probably cope anyway. So we stayed with her and kept her positivity up. She was fantastic in that she listened to all the advice given to her and responded well. She had fantastic support from her husband and her Mum too. She had a lovely birth on a birthing stool and simply couldn't believe she'd done it without an epidural. After the delivery of the placenta, we made sure she was comfortable and I got her some tea and toast and after she'd had that I helped her to get baby latched on for a breastfeed. At then I left them to enjoy some time together as a family.

Out on the ward there was much to do as they'd continued to be busy; many beds to be made up, notes to be put through the computer and ladies to be discharged, so my feet hardly touched the ground. Before too long we had another labouring lady come in so I was combining supporting her with the other jobs that needed to be done. Luckily she was in quite early labour and coping well so we could leave her to quietly progress, popping back in every 15 minutes to check on her. In between all of this, I popped to see the couple I had supported in the morning and they were still flying high on emotions. Mum was absolutely thrilled with herself and I joked that we'd see her back in a years time. I took the opportunity to ask them to fill in one of my feedback sheets, and once they'd done that it was my turn to beam with happiness. I won't put it all but one thing they wrote was "we thought she was already a qualified midwife, she was so calm and supportive".

At the end of my shift I was still glowing with the compliments. Our second labouring lady was progressing well but it was likely to be sometime yet before she'd deliver so we handed her care over to the night shift. I was exhausted but happy; it had been a fantastic day. So with that I had my five witnesses, which in turn means I am ready to catch; well in theory......

Three more shifts to see if I get the opportunity now; watch this space........

Thursday, 15 July 2010

A bit of frustration, and a lot of joy

I began my second week of placement working with yet another person...I don't think I've actually worked with the same person twice yet. I think of myself being pretty easygoing and able to work with anyone but it's hard to learn when everyone works differently. Also I have a book which needs to be signed off by my mentor and at the moment I am concerned about getting the chance to get this done. Some things won't be done until I am on the Community part of my placement but some do need to be done now. Also we spend a lot of time sitting and waiting. I am pleased to be getting lots of practice at checking blood pressures and doing the postnatal checks but I want to be getting as broad a range of experience as I can. So at the beginning of this week I was feeling a bit frustrated and a bit flat with it all.

I did get the opportunity to observe another water birth which was brilliant, but it was literally just the birth that I observed; a fellow student of mine was able to be there for the care during labour part too and I just wanted my opportunity for a similar experience. And yesterday I finally got my turn. We had a labourer come over from the triage unit and I was able to be there throughout the labour and birth. I worked with yet another midwife; she was predominantly a community midwife but she did some shifts in the hospital as well which meant she did work quite differently from the others I had so far worked with.

I thoroughly enjoyed being a much more a part of the experience. I helped to care for the couple; helping with pain relief, moving positions, checking her pulse and blood pressure, palpating during a contraction, reassuring the father and giving the mother lots of encouragement. It was a beautiful birth and afterwards I really felt I had been a valuable part of the couples experience and almost wished I could have worked today to see them again before they went home.

When I got home I was still exhilarated from the experience and it really made me feel surer than ever that I had chosen the right career pathway for me. This was exactly what I wanted to do. Babies are cute and everything but being able to give that support and reassurance to women is what I want; to give women that belief in themselves and feel that amazing achievement that comes with giving birth.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

End of my first week on placement

It was certainly easier coming in for my second shift...just knowing where I could get changed and roughly what to expect made it much better. We had no labourers or births on my second or third shift yet so far my second shift has been my most enjoyable.

On my second shift I spent far more time with my mentor. She was keen to get me doing things so I was doing some postnatal checks with her. The only practice I'd had at reading blood pressures, was one class at Uni and a couple of tries on my husband at home. I certainly didn't feel very confident. However my mentor was happy for me to jump in and have a go and then she'd check it afterwards for me. The first time was a little nerve wracking but the lady was really nice and understood I was learning. So the first couple of times I wasn't very confident at all but my mentor checked them for me afterwards. On the third one, it felt like something clicked and I got it. And since then I've felt perfectly happy to check any ones blood pressure.

Of course doing postnatal checks is rather more than checking blood pressure...there are a fair few questions to ask the new mums too. So there I am...first time I've ever met this poor woman and I have to ask her if she's managed to wee or open her bowels yet. The first time I hesitated as lets face it, it's embarrassing. I remember being embarrassed when I was asked after having my own children. I wasn't embarrassed for me...I was embarrassed for them. However I quickly learnt that the more matter of fact I was about asking the question, the easier it was for them. Also it gave them the opportunity to raise any questions they had, that they might not have asked otherwise.

We had quite a few discharges to do on that second shift and by the afternoon I was feeling confident enough to go away and do postnatal checks on my own. My mentor also decided to work with me on doing the basic baby checks. I read through the notes, to see what would I would be checking and off we went. Exactly the same as with the mothers, I had no demonstration of what to do but my mentor stayed with me the whole time, and "held my hand" through it. Whenever I looked unsure, she reminded me what to check next, and she also talked to me about why we were checking. So whilst I felt a bit thrown in at the deep end, I actually felt it suited me really well. I had no time to get too nervous about it and it means now that the first time is over and done with so nothing to be nervous about anymore - well in theory.

My third shift was again quiet from the point of view of no labourers or births but we had quite a few women on the ward. There was also quite a few feeding issues going on with a lot of sleepy babies. We weren't sure how much the heat was playing a part but it certainly wasn't helping anyone. So the main jobs for the day, were postnatal checks and breastfeeding support. We also seemed to move a lot of beds around...lots of women changing rooms for various reasons.

So now I have just three weeks remaining on the ward where I am and I am really really hoping to at least see some labourers, if not some births. I am also hoping it doesn't stay as hot as it has been as it has been truly unbearable on the ward.......maybe this is the way I'll lose some weight ;) Four long shifts this week so fingers crossed for some more active learning :)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Just like the first day of a new job I was both excited and a bit nervous about my first shift. I got up early to make sure I would be ready. I packed my bag with my uniform, spare trousers, knickers and socks - we'd been warned by Uni to be prepared for a woman's waters breaking ;)

When I arrived at the hospital I made my way straight up to the ward and then went to change into my uniform. For the first time I felt like a proper student midwife. I had my name badge and ID card, and my pass so I could access the ward - what power! I went back to the desk and waited to be told what to do. At that time there was a fair few people there - a mixture of the night shift about to come off duty and the day shift coming on duty. Handover was done and the night shift disappeared off home. My mentor gave me a whistle stop tour of the unit and showed me where things were and then gave me time to wander around and familiarise myself a bit.

It was then a bit of waiting around for something to happen and luckily something did. There was a lady in labouring and she was progressing quite quickly and wanted to use the pool. So we got all hands on deck to get the pool room ready and the pool filled. I was then really lucky to be allowed to stay in the room and watch the birth. It was a very strange experience in some ways...I'd only briefly seen the woman's face as she'd come round to the unit and now I was getting a very different view.

I have had a water birth myself as well as a land birth and it's funny how memory tricks you, not to mention the effect of pain on your experience. I don't remember there being such a gap in between contractions, and whilst I know my labour would have been different, I suspect there was more time than I recall. The woman's birth partner was absolutely fantastic...he seemed to know exactly when she needed a drink, some cooling spray, a bit of humour and he really encouraged her well.

The birth itself was amazing to watch. I had seen a birth before but that was before the birth of my own children. And watching births on You Tube, whilst useful, does not compare at all. The woman had such amazing power of her own body. The midwife was very good at supporting her - knowing just when to stand back and listen and when she needed some encouragement.

Once the baby was born, it was wonderful to see that moment of relief and pure joy. It was the first moment I felt a little bit intrusive, into this precious, private moment between the new parents and their baby. The parents did not have any concerns with us being there however. I really feel honoured to have been able to share in their experience.

The rest of the day was rather more waiting and observing than anything else. Though I did help one lady to breastfeed. It took some time but we got there eventually and I felt really proud of the support I had provided. it was nice to be able to do something I felt confident in - especially on a day where I'd felt in the way or like a spare part most of the time.

At the end of the day I was tired but happy and looking forward to the next day.