Grapevine Stories

A day in the life of a midwife

We get a wonderful insite from Grapevine member, Dolly Maude, into a day in the life of being a midwife.

It’s a fresh-ish morning in the Cotswolds and I don my middle-aged-woman-in-lycra look. I am cycling in to Cheltenham General Hospital for my 13 hour shift on the birth unit. Why? Because I'm training for a cycle ride from Ho Chi Min to Angkor as my ‘holiday’ this month for the Matt Hampson Foundation. The downside to this is always the cycle home. 

On arrival at ‘Arrivals’, my bike and I climb the steps to the top floor where all the lights are still low. Most of the night staff are looking forward to going home, but there is activity in Room 3. It seems that there might be a baby before the end of the shift. It is a blessing and not for the staff, depending on who you are. 

Great for the midwife who has calmed and encouraged the mother all night to be present til the bitter end, as no one wants to miss a delivery, although not so great that her night shift will be extended by a couple of hours in order for her to finish off her paperwork and handover. Not great for the staff coming on, as the first job on their agenda is to clean up mum and the room who can look like they have both been part of an all-night rave with a vaguely gorey twist at the end! 

But when you walk in to that room for the introduction to a mother with her seconds old baby, there is no greater privilege other than actually being there at the birth. The emotion and wonder never fails to stun me. How this happens and how the most unlikely people power through a delivery. The beauty of the human in extreme situations and the chemistry between the parents to be. Nature is a marvellous thing and something on the birth unit that we try our best not to meddle with. 

The midwives are extremely experienced, and with that experience comes the confidence to have a far more hands-off approach than the hi-tech, all-singing and dancing delivery suite for the less straightforward patient.  

Life on the birth unit is full of highs and lows. Mostly, thankfully highs. There are more lows on delivery suite, just by the nature of the mums in our care in that setting, but meeting young couples and living their journey too parenthood is a pleasure and joy. 

Being part of a team of strong, loving, caring, passionate women is a life lesson. It’s certainly not for everyone and is most definitely a vocation and not a job. There is a preconceived idea from potential students that being a midwife, MSW or an MCA is all about cuddling babies...the reality is long hours, being shouted at, acting as Kofi Annan in all different senarios, Christmas Day with your medical family, missing sports day, carol services, weddings, christenings and going home with pretty much every bodily fluid you can imagine on your person! Sometimes you think you feel nearly as exhausted as the new parents!

But speak to ANYONE in our profession and they wouldn’t change it for the world…

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