Midwifery is by far the hardest but the most rewarding degree to study
You learn to develop a thick skin, and how to not faint when you see 2.5 litre haemorrhage
Student midwives are a rare breed; we are few and far between and often referred to as ‘known about but never seen’. A midwifery degree is one of the most intense courses both mentally and academically out there. We are required to work the hours of a full time job, including night shifts and weekends, whilst completing a BSc or BA degree, which is pretty intense.
Midwives are hugely underrepresented at university, with the cohort sizes being between 30-70 people and being mainly made up of mature students with children. It’s a rarity to see one of us who came straight from school – not many people decide to choose a profession catching babies and examining placentas at age 18.
Most people know we exist, but due to having to have 100 per cent attendance throughout the three years of the course it makes it difficult to attend all the social events being held at uni; no one wants to turn up to a 12.5 hour shift smelling of tequila with gold glitter still stuck in your hair.
The sisterhood is real
Being part of such a small cohort means you create a fierce bond with your peers. Every one of us understands the highs and the lows of the job, and they will support you in whether it’s cheering with you after finally correctly assess the dilation of a cervix, or providing you with a big cup of tea when you’ve had a hard day. There is a legit sisterhood when training to be a midwife. You experience such an surreal moment in a woman’s life when witnessing something they’ve created being brought into the world each week. You can’t fully understand unless you’re experiencing it.
Sharing these experiences with members of your team can make you closer than ever, and the friends you make on the course are friends for life. It’s great leaving the hospital together after a shift and passing people with regular day jobs thinking “if only you knew what we had experienced today”.
We have to juggle placement and uni
When you’re not on placement, you’re in university 9-5 Monday to Friday learning the theory behind midwifery practise, and after five weeks of lectures, we are put into action on placement to learn on the job and to adapt to the shift patterns of midwives. We are given a ‘sign off mentor’ who assess you on your antenatal, labour and birth, postnatal and infant feeding skills. It’s exciting experiencing a placement area for the first time where you can put your knowledge to the test, and it’s amazing to meet so many different midwives who will guide, teach and inspire you to be the type of midwife you want to be.
Your social life is out the window
A midwifery degree requires a lot of commitment and dedication; we give up nights out on the weekend due to having a night shift or a shift the day after, or to write a critique on a research paper on perineal tears. Some of us watch with envy at students on other courses who can go out every weekend and attend festivals and holidays in the summer, for us we only finish our year mid-August and get a mere three weeks holiday off to try and squeeze in summer activities. This has however taught me how to fully embrace my summer holidays, and it means every night out is precious.
We handle emergencies well
Midwives are the guardians of natural birth, but they also know how to handle obstetric emergencies and have the skills to deal with these. As a student we witness many different emergencies, and our main job when we are still new is to pull the emergency bell and grab things they need from the store room. This can be scary the first few times, however you learn to develop a thick skin, and how to not faint when you see 2.5 litre haemorrhage.
You wouldn’t swap it for the world
Despite the long shifts, the weekends given up, and going through an emotional rollercoaster each day, it’s worth it. To be part of such an intimate and special moment in a woman’s life and to be trusted with the birth of their child is a huge honour, and I am grateful every day for the experiences I’ve been given. It’s a privilege to help empower a woman throughout her pregnancy, and to help guide her in the first few days of motherhood, and I am proud to say I’m a student midwife. The 2am naps in your break on a busy night shift are like no other, and not many people can say they’ve caught a baby aged 18.