5 What I Wish I Knew...Student Midwife Edition!

I can't believe I've never done a "What I Wish I Knew". I honestly am so excited to do a newly qualified midwife version, so I thought before I forgot everything from being a student midwife, I would share some of the things I'd wish I'd known, as I know a lot of university offers are now coming through and people are thinking about what to plan for in advance! 

There's so many different aspects that I wish I'd known before starting my university course, but I thought I'd share my top 5 so that the post doesn't get too long! 

  1. Be prepared for cohort variety. 
    I think this was one of the things I was most unprepared for. The cohort is so varied in terms of age, life experience and education experience. There will be some people you don't get on with, some people who won't get on with you and some people who just gel together. There will be groups of friends, there will be quiet people and loud people. It's interesting and to be honest, as I've never had a job before, the first time I've really mixed with people outside my age group. With that comes the education gap. Some people have just come out of full time education and some people haven't done it for a long time and that was hard. From the difference between BTECs, A Levels and access courses, everyone is at different places in terms of knowledge. Of course, lecturers have to teach to the lowest level, but that was hard for me. I found myself bored and often loosing motivation because a lot of knowledge I already had.

  2. Communication is key.
    In more ways that one, communication is crucial. It's fundamental in placement for practice and care of clients, but also in the university side of things. I've spoken to other university students and I think it's across the board, but midwifery programmes have really poor communication. I found myself constantly chasing things, having to send multiple emails are find out information independently. The same applies for placement, having to chase shifts and mentors. Also, mentors don't necessarily know what they need to do (we use PebblePad) so writing and letting them know up front is important. 

  3. Expect the unexpected. 
    Pregnancy and childbirth is so hard because it's so unpredictable. Always be ready for anything because you never know what could happen. 

  4. There will be hard days! 
    The job is emotional. Expect the highest highs, but also the lowest lows. Something that has always stuck with me since International Day of the Midwife 2019, was a quote: Never quit on a bad day. It's so easy to quit when it's hard, when it's been tough and when you're sad/upset/angry. If you still want to quit after a good day, that's when you know it's time. Just remember, on the hard days, be kind to yourself and use your mentors, lecturers and friends to reflect on the day and talk it through. Don't dwell on it and let those feelings build. 

  5. Non-healthcare professionals won't understand.
    This is so hard for those who haven't been there and done it, but people (like my family and friends) just don't understand how exhausting shift work is. Night shifts really take it out of you. Sometimes it can take a couple days to recover! Although you may only be at work three days, which sounds like nothing, it's 12.5 hour shifts which is hard work! Most of the time, it's on the go all the time, no rest and constantly being nice. I know it sounds silly, but sometimes I just want to get home and not talk to anyone for an hour!

I've noticed a lot of people talk about other aspects. The "second year slump" is something a lot of people struggle through but I personally didn't have that experience. Another is having to deal with assessments and placements at the same time, and for me that's not how my university course worked so I didn't have to deal with that either. I would love to hear what were some of your "what I wish I knew" if you're already a student midwife or graduated already. Please do put them in the comments below!