Why did I become a midwife? Well I can’t say even I know the truth to that. I left school with three A-levles; Art, History and Business Studies. Not exactly scientific, is it? But I knew I had to work with people, I just had to. I couldn’t do a desk job or a 9-5 and I knew I had to help people in some way or another. I looked at nursing, teaching, social work etc but being a midwife was the only one that really struck me.
It is common knowledge that within the UK we have a national shortage of midwives, yet it is shockingly difficult to actually get into university to study. The application progress is rigorous and having good grades means very little. You need to get as much experience has humanly possible (difficult thanks to child protection laws), know your stuff (starting getting your head in the books), you need the personality and of course you need the luck. I trained for four years to be a midwife, I opted to re-do my 2nd year and in all fairness, it nearly killed me. This course we horrifically impacting on my life and the lives of my class mates, the amount of divorces that took place was unreal. I spent a large portion of my first 2nd year on antidepressants.
Unlike normal students, midwifery students work FULL TIME. We don’t have three months off for summer, we don’t have 2 hour lectures and we don’t party. We work 37.5 hours a week, every week, this is either full time in the class room or on the wards. Naturally there are many skills and competences we must learn before we qualify, such as taking blood, administering drugs and of course caring for people emotionally. On top of that WE have to deliver 40 babies normally and do hundreds of postnatal (after) and antenatal (before) checks. However, the real learning starts when you are qualified.
For those that are unaware the word Midwife is Greek, it means ‘with woman’. We are neither nurses nor Doctors. We are specialists in the physical and emotional care of women and their families during pregnancy. In the UK women start seeing the midwives from early on, midwives (where safe) deliver babies and we care for them and the women immediately and for many weeks after. We work with doctors to care for women whos health or needs fall outside of the normal that we work hard to promote. Obstetrics is a radical and ever changing world. Midwives work to keep women safe but to also empower them. We encourage low risk pregnancy and birth with minimal medical intervention where it is safe.
Being a midwife means I constantly challenge what I see, hear, think and do. I am faced with some of the most amazing and humbling experiences of my life, I am faced with some of the most horrific, emotional and enraging experiences of my life but, I always have a story to tell.