The Best Week of Midwifery Shifts

Midwifery (and any healthcare professional role) is highly demanding, very emotional, but incredibly rewarding. Over the years, I have had good shifts and bad shifts, but last week has honestly reminded me of how much I love my job. Also, how much I needed a reminder of the highlights of it, especially given my current struggles in my personal life. 

Recently, I've had some interesting shifts and defintely a wide range of experiences. I've had some long shifts with no births, which whilst I try to give the best care and our job isn't about the babies, it's always nice to meet the baby at the end of it all. I've been rostered to do a lot of elective sections shifts, which whilst I like the scheduled non-emergency nature, can be very full on and demanding. I also don't love that you can't follow through with the care, as often you have to take the next elective to theatre before the previous has been warded. There have also been almost every "emergency" under the sun. I've had postpartum haemorrhages (bleeding heavily after birth), shoulder dystocia's (baby's shoulder getting stuck), bradycardias (baby's heart rate dropping) and third degree tears (tearing to the anal sphincter muscle). To top it off, I have also been pulled to a multitude of different areas to cover staff shortages, which can be really demoralising and often it's when it's all going downhill which is never the best.

Regardless, last week was amazing. I was booked to do the triage phone line, however when I arrived at work I was quickly pulled to an instrumental delivery in theatre and then to work on the antenatal ward. Whilst I didn't get a break and finished half an hour late, I felt like I managed to calm the situations down and accomplish the checklist of requirements that were needed to finish the shift. My first night was a long shift, again finishing with no second break, however I had the most lovely family to look after. They were honestly one of the nicest families and whilst things didn't go quite to plan, watching them meet their little girl was beautiful. They'd had some previously very traumatic deliveries so to give them comfort in a sensitive time of their lives was a joy. 

My last night shift was my first with a new first year student midwife. We were incredibly short staffed and incredibly busy, with likely a record number of babies. At one point, the unit had 4 babies within 45 minutes! I love having students as even a first year, it's so nice to have a second pair of hands. I also really enjoy teaching and explaining. We were so lucky to have the pleasure of looking after two gorgeous families and welcome their little boys into their arms. They both had the most beautiful of normal vaginal deliveries, one of which was a pool birth. Both were midwifery led, intermittent auscultation and neither needed stitches. They were both eligible and wanting an early discharge, but sadly it couldn't be facilitated on labour suite due to the workload, so I had to ultimately ward them with the hope of them being discharged after 6 hours from upstairs. 

I am so honoured to be a witness of any delivery, but those perfect deliveries always have a special place in my heart and I really felt like I needed that gently reminder. The long shifts can take its toll over time, so it's lovely to be able to appreciate the little things. 

Shift work is hard. It's the long tiring hours, the constant demand and the emotions. It's so important to have a good support network to rely on. I do really struggle being in Nottingham and away from family, especially when the people I thought would be close, no longer are. It's so important to practice self-love and treat yourself. It's also crucial to practice reflection regularly and discuss with colleagues, or friends.