I am now 6 months into my first year, have completed my first placement, my first assignment and my first exam and already in this time I have experienced a large degree of negativity.
There can be negativity before you even begin the course, from professionals, from family and friends, from complete strangers....those who wonder why you want to be a midwife as they couldn't imagine anything worse as well as those who know how difficult it is to get a place and wonder why you want to put yourself through it. In all honesty, I partially feel this is like the first test of how much you really want it. If someone can put you off so easily, before you've even tried, then maybe you don't want it enough. That said, I have been lucky in that the response from my friends and family has been incredibly supportive and I know that I will need them when things are tough, when perhaps I do doubt if I am doing the right thing.
I have talked before about reading on forums about poor placement experiences some students have had at the beginning of my "What Makes a Good Mentor?" post, and I don't want to repeat myself, so you can just go back and re-read it. However in a nutshell, I guess I am talking about the negative attitudes of others towards students. I know that I have said to my fellow students that as first years, we truly are the lowest of the low, and I have heard tales of being treated as a completely different person once qualified. Is it right? No of course it isn't but is it going to stop happening? Not any time soon, I am sorry to say. The only thing I would like to be sure of, is that I won't treat students that way or anyone in fact.
The other kind of negativity you can come across, is the negativity of qualified midwives towards the job, and sadly the women. As a first year, I am at a stage where I feel passionate about childbirth, choice, breastfeeding and supporting women in their choices. I don't want to change how midwifery is practised (I'm not wanting to change the design of the wheel after all), I have no urge to change the world, but I do want to support women to the best of my ability. I don't want to lose that passion that I arrived with, through working with midwives that are jaded about childbirth through the experiences they have had. I certainly don't want to criticise anyone I have worked with; I am hardly in any position to do so with the limited experience and knowledge that I have. So instead I thought I'd write a little bit about how I hope to deal with it and maintain positivity.
By keeping a record of my passion in this blog, I hope that I can always read back on it and remember why I wanted to become a midwife in the first place. That after a difficult shift, or when I am in the midst of assignments and feeling stressed, I can come here and read this and just remind myself why. That I can read about the people that inspired me, the stories that saddened me, the women who I wished had had better experiences to remind me how I don't want to be.
I also have an excellent support network of friends and family who I know will always lend me an ear, and encourage me when I most need it. They are also there to help me take a break, and give me some time out from the pressure. My husband is wonderful and will take the children out so I can have some space, and not only to study, sometimes so I can just have a bath and watch the TV in peace. I think it's valuable to know when to stop and take some time for yourself as this helps you to keep going.
I am also a member of forums where I can share opinions and ideas, gain support and have debates over all sorts of topics. I can also speak with my fellow students, in particular those that are based with the same trust as me, as they know the same people as me. It is going to be interesting to see how we all change and grow along our journey to be midwives. I think we will all learn just as much from each other, as we do from our own experiences.
I've recommended to friends who are pregnant, to listen to all the advice, take what you want and leave the rest behind. I hope I can apply this to my learning too, whilst of course maintaining my knowledge for safe practice.