Midwifery Year One: Placements

So year one posts are nearly over! I've shared my year one review and talked about all the different types of assessments, even sharing my grades but today I'm going to talk about the placements.

First up, was community placement. This was a six week long block and I hadn’t a clue what to expect. I ended up really enjoying the whole experience and I had an absolutely incredible mentor who supported me so well throughout. I was very lucky in that respect because she made the experience all the better. I think I was completely oblivious to the whole community midwifery role so I didn’t really know what they did or how it linked into the hospital role that I knew so well. For me, the practice was really interesting to see, especially looking at the big picture of the antenatal and postnatal journey. Although given the current structure of midwifery care the postnatal role is less of a midwife and more of the maternity support workers, but that’s a whole different topic. I got to experience the whole range of appointments and lots of different aspects in addition to the norm. Plus, I was based in a very diverse area with not only some wealthy women but also a lot of poorer families with I am and I also got pushed outside of my comfort zone.

Labour suite was by far my most challenging but also the most rewarding and I loved every second of it. I think it was made a little harder for me because my mentor only did night shifts, meaning I only did night shifts. It was split into a 6 week and 4 week block, in which I did 6 day shifts. Honestly, I didn't mind too much. I don't particularly see much difference between night and day shifts on labour suite because everything runs 24hrs, quite consistently. But the positive is that there are less doctors, meaning there are more normal vaginal deliveries, plus more babies tend to be born on an evening, just like animals in the wild.

I had such a wonderful first 10 weeks, with not only great continuity but also some beautiful births. My first block consisted of mainly sanctuary shifts, which is for low risk women, midwifery led care and normal vaginal births. I also had some induction shifts thrown into the mix but usually, we got called back to labour suite due to the staffing need. I felt very competent in normal care but always worried when anything went wrong.

My 4 week block, was completely different but just as rewarding. I got very lucky with my births in the first 6 weeks, but I hadn't seen many complications. I really found it useful to see forceps, ventousse and cesarean section deliveries, because it allowed me to develop new skills like scribing and comforting the woman. I also started to give intramuscular injections, took cord bloods and cord gases and got more involved in the medication aspect.

While at the time I was quite down because I went through 5 shifts of not seeing a baby born, let alone catching one, I really think it made my whole labour suite experience really well rounded because I got to experience the many different sides to labour. I ended up catching 21 births as my total for year one and it finished with my case holding lady delivering, which was basically as perfect as it could be.

The final placement was an allocated ward. Some students get antenatal, while some get postnatal and depending on the hospital, it could be a mixed ward. I ended up being on the postnatal ward and I can honestly say, I really enjoyed it. Going from labour suite which is quite high risk and you need to be on alert at all times, it feel so much more relaxed. Don't get me wrong, things can still take a turn for the worse and of course, some women and babies can need extra care, but the majority of the time, women just did routine care and support with breast feeding and simple baby care tasks.

I loved being able to support the women and you can see how much they appreciated it. The ward also led me to be involved in elective sections and I really bonded with the women I cared for. It's so nice, going from routine antenatal care to watching them become parents and following up with them. I was very lucky to experience a lot of shifts back-to-back, which yes, has it's pro's and con's, but it means you get to constantly see women and there family and you form a true connection.
It's amazing how close you get to a family and I was sad to see one couple get discharged with their beautiful set of twins. I admitted them for their elective section and really bonded with them. We all just clicked. Watching the twins be born was gorgeous and then to see them for the next 4 days in a row, postnatally, was wonderful. They were so incredibly sweet and despite everything going on, they even brought me cupcakes which their little 2 year old daughter came to bring me...she was darling! I miss them and it's families like them that make the job worth while.

On the opposite spectrum, you have women undergoing child protection cases who tend to be in for longer stays but it's so important not to judge them. I actually really loved getting to know each of them and I never came across anyone who was not happy to share their stories, and actually really appreciated someone listening and being entirely open. Plus, it's always nice to see the happy endings.

I can't even begin to explain how much I adored all three placements. I can't wait to go back to them all in third year and I miss being on placement every single day. It's going to be so hard to choose where to apply when searching for a job, once graduated, because I genuinely love them all. Going into placements, I really thought it would be such an easy decision but with each area, it became more difficult. Obviously, there is still plenty of time as it's only early doors but it's something I've been thinking about and I don't have a clue!

Being on placement as a student midwife really does make you appreciate why you are studying Midwifery. It's challenging, emotional and exhausting but it's so rewarding, unique and a complete privilege to be apart of the journey.

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