5 Things I didn’t realize until I became a Midwife

When I decided I wanted to be a midwife, I did try to prepare as much as possible. I’d read all the books, took as much clinical experience as possible and spoke to lots of midwives. I thought I had a good idea about what being a midwife and working in the NHS was all about. Here are 5 things that I learnt along the way, and definitely didn’t expect before I started my training.

Night shifts make you feel hung-over.

I could never prepare myself for training my body to deal with night shifts.

  • No-one can explain how you’re going to feel. The feeling sick during the day, and being really hungry at midnight. The wall of tiredness that hits you at 4.30am. And no-one can quite express the physical and emotional pain of having to de-ice your car at 7am when you just want to crawl into bed. However, driving past everyone going to work when you’re going home is a fantastic feeling.

Sometimes you have to put your big girl knickers on

  • Working in the NHS is tough. It’s a high stress environment, which isn’t helped by staffing issues and heavy work loads. Colleagues get stressed and snap at you and patients will complain about waiting times. You end up growing a thick skin, and quickly. The good thing is this strengthens you in ways you’ll never imagine, and will be applicable to other areas of your life. You become a stronger and confident person overall.

12.5 hours is a long time to be at work.

  • I already knew I’d be working 12.5 hour shifts, but the good thing is, you only ever work 3 days a week. I can’t explain to you how a 12.5 hour shift actually feels, and even if it is only 3 times a week, it’s really hard work, mentally and physically. You’ll come home and barely be able to get yourself into bed, ready to sleep and prepare yourself for the early morning start. My advice to you – keep hydrated, keep snacks on you at all times, and remember – the shift will always come to an end. The positives of these long shifts is that you build some pretty strong and amazing connections with the women in your care, but it can definitely take it out of you.

Cuddling babies is a rare part of the job.

  • A depressing fact, but it’s true. Yes, a big part of your job is caring for newborn babies but the focus of midwifery is caring for the woman and her family. You look after women when they’re pregnant, in labour and once they’ve had their baby but your role is to support new mums and dads to look after their baby themselves. As much as midwifery TV shows would love you to believe, we rarely ever get to cuddle a baby. Maybe for 5 minutes while a mum pops to the loo, but sadly that’s about it.

The buzz you still get when you deliver a baby – no matter how many times you’ve done it.

  • When you’re a student, it’s all incredibly exciting. Every new skill and milestone reached is a huge achievement, and is bringing you one step closer to being a grown up qualified midwife. However, I never realised how that buzz of delivering a baby never goes away with time. No matter how that baby is delivered, whether it’s a quick normal delivery of someone you’ve met for 10 minutes, or a c-section of someone you’ve been caring for for months, that feeling of being part of that life changing experience never gets old.

Being a midwife is terrifying and amazing and magical and scary, all rolled into one. So I hope you enjoyed learning about some of my revelations in the last few years! Check out more blog posts about being a midwife on my blog www.lottielivewell.com

Love Lottie

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