Student Midwife Diaries #7

Over Half Way Through First Year!

I didn't know how to start this months update. I didn't know what I was going to say, if I was going to glaze over my month or approach it from a realistic viewpoint.. I just didn't know what to do - because this month has been a bit of a reality check.

L A B O U R   S U I T E

My time on labour suite was incredible, I learned so much in four weeks - I'm still shocked at the amount I seen over 13 shifts, some good - some bad. But a learning experience non the less. I seen a retained placenta - with a manual removal, a surprise breech, twins, C-sections, episiotomy's, urethral tears, PPH, inductions, diabetes, emergency situations.. my eyes have well and truly been opened.

With that, comes incredible experiences. Being there for twelve births (Catching 8) seeing babies placed into their mothers arms, seeing couples become parents and families grow in a single breath. I don't think a feeling can be better than passing a baby to it's mother and seeing a look of pure relief and joy on their face. It's better than I even imagined.

As a first year we are taught "normal" labour and birth. Focusing on relaxation, upright births, mobility, empowering women and their choices, dimmed lighting, breathing techniques - tools to help us care for women in a straightforward labour. Labour Suite isn't straightforward, it's high risk, it's complications, it's CTGs, epidurals, inductions - all of which bring along their own complications. Being completely out of depth as a first year was terrifying. Knowing so little... it was scary - even with a team of incredible professionals around us.

It was especially terrifying in emergency situations, in an area where you feel out of depth anyway - being faced with babies who don't want to breathe straight away - all stunned at their new surroundings, or seeing people bleed heavily, seeing babies produce scary CTGs, it is just completely overwhelming. Especially when you realise these emergency situations are people. With lives, hopes, dreams... looking to you for comfort for what is happening, clutching your hand and asking what they have done so badly wrong to have this happen - while the professionals deal with the emergency around us.

I have realised some of my learning experiences come from moments where families are distressed, completely and utterly terrified of the unknown - in these moments I am internally screaming, trying to stay calm for them and holding back my emotions, to later sob my heart out in the unjust of it all.

I went through moments where I thought I can't do this. How can I? I'm out of my depth, scared - I don't know anything. I cry after the moments where I should be strong,  how will they let me stay on the course when I feel emotionally exhausted after four weeks....

But, I think I am accepting that it is okay to feel this way. I'm a first year, I am allowed to not know everything, I'm allowed to be scared. As much as we can talk about these moments - nothing quite prepares you for them. Nothing prepares you for the adrenaline to be pumping around your body, the feeling of panic when you open a kit thinking it is something entirely different. Nothing quite prepares you for when birth doesn't go to plan, the sound of a heart breaking with a scream. But it is something I will learn from, something I will grow from.  Something I did grow from.

I was focusing on everything I couldn't do. Everything which I didn't know yet. But ignoring the bits I did do, without prompting - I sat with women while they were scared for their babies, holding their hands and calming them through distraction, I cleaned them down and covered them up for warmth, I reassured them that their babies were in good hands - that they had been incredible. I distracted fathers while they were terrified - so they could be calm for their partners, I wiped away tears...

I had been a source of strength to them when internally I had considered myself weak. (And I'm not being big headed here, they all said how calming I was... I thank Mo for that, and her breathing techniques - mostly used on myself in fairness)

The labour suite team are incredible. They handle things beautifully - like watching a machine work in perfect harmony, everyone having their own job. I cannot thank them enough for taking the time to include us in their process - to learn from them was invaluable.

B A C K   T O   U N I V E R S I T Y

The drive is EVIL. Seriously. 65 miles each way is an arsehole, it is so expensive too. But, it was so lovely to see everyone. I feel like we have all changed so much - but in a good way. The lecturers are an absolute joy, as always. They had to deal with us all exhaused from placement, with no break either. Poor things. 

We went back to two essays to write, and needless to say if I need to RGU reference one more thing I think I might cry (Russell 2019). But so far so good, 1 essay done and only one left to do. 

I've also reached out to the Practicing Midwife's Journal. They have a student publication which I would LOVE to get on board with - so hopefully, fingers crossed, that might be something I become more involved in. 

RUSSELL, E., 2019. Student Midwifery Diaries #7 [online]. 7 April 2019. Available from: [Accessed 7 April 2019].

This month has been so full on, I'm still shocked by how much has happened. I'm VERY happy to have two weeks off now - I think it has been well and truly earned. 

I have created an Instagram especially for my Midwifery Journey, you can follow it here, or search @Midwife_Erin on Instagram :)

I attend Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, studying Bachelor of Midwifery, you can apply or find out more here: 

Make sure to follow me on instagram for constant updates too! :)

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