What it’s like to study Midwifery at King’s

You get used to all the night shifts after a while


According to one of my course mates, if university students were different sections of a restaurant menu, midwifery students would be the side dish: we’re hardly ever visible and most likely to be forgotten when ordering a meal.

Dinner selfie with the fellow midwifery students

Dinner selfie with the midwifery girls (yes there are no guys on the course)

To start with, studying midwifery isn’t that different to any other degree. We spent September trying to navigate our way around all the campuses just to get to a freshers’ welcome for all those societies we signed up for. We had conversations with lots of people as equally nervous as ourselves, we exchanged names or even numbers, created half a dozen WhatsApp group chats. For those first couple of weeks, we were doing well, attending society meals and balls and being social butterflies, fluttering between at least four of the five campuses (Denmark Hill to Strand is not fun), Then the university fantasy dies down though and placement starts.

Have you ever seen someone this excited after taking fake blood from a dummy arm?

When midwifery placement starts, you’re introduced to a brand new world, unknown to most of your friends and family. Slowly you realise you don’t have time to attend society events and you can’t go to the ball because you have placement the following morning. You don’t really pay much attention to the lack of events you’re attending though because most of the friends you’ve made will most likely be stuck in study mode while you’re in placement mode.

You’re also now living in a part of London that doesn’t exactly have the best TripAdvisor reviews, a stark contrast to the lavish central London life you’ve been so used to for the past few weeks as you’ve toured all the famous landmarks and tried at least five different cuisines in a single day.

A cold means nothing when you have lectures #dedication

A cold means nothing when you have lectures #dedication

The penny finally drops in February. Suddenly, you realise just how little time you spend with university friends, you no longer have any idea what day of the week it is and your social life is non-existent. You eventually realise that of course no one would be awake at 5am while you’re on a break during your third 12.5 hour night shift in a row.

Your body clock is completely ruined now: breakfast, lunch and dinner are combined into one meal and the only piece of clothing you seem to be wearing is either a pair of joggers or your comfy unflattering scrubs. Your fob watch is your most favourite accessory and you’ve swapped sandals for a more practical leather pair of clogs.

Your days are now your nights and you’re lucky if you get time for a quick phone call home. You’re working into the early hours of the morning and are completely drained, yet every time you see the difference you’ve made to someone’s life, the way you helped them and their family in one of the most vulnerable times of their lives, you smile. You’ve accomplished something, and you’ve made a difference. That’s what matters on a course like this.

It often feels as though we’re isolated from other university students but that’s because a lot of sacrifices have to be made by us. Nursing and midwifery students work some of the longest hours, sometimes 46 hour weeks including night shifts.

Today's lecture - Physiology of Labour... but first lemme take a selfie

Today’s lecture: Physiology of Labour… but first lemme take a selfie

Compared to college, midwifery is a massive change. I’ve gone from seeing my friends on a daily basis and having a buzzing social life to it becoming well, non-existent. It really isn’t how I pictured university but as much as I and others will complain, we know we wouldn’t change it for the world. Midwifery is amazing, it challenges you in every way, physically, mentally and emotionally. I’ve seen things and experienced things most 19-year-olds couldn’t even imagine.

Pretty much every conversation I now have involves some aspect of midwifery and I love it. I love talking about it, I love writing about it and I love practicing it. It really isn’t the most glamorous job nor is it the best paying, (not that us students get paid at all) but it takes a certain type of person to agree to a three-week summer holiday, to agree to four night shifts in a row, to agree to be checking placentas while our friends are comfy in their beds watching the latest PLL episode.

So on behalf of all nursing and midwifery students, don’t forget that we exist: we don’t want to be treated like a side dish!