The 5th May is the International Day of the Midwife. Student midwives at Bournemouth University are celebrating the day by sharing stories about their journey to becoming a midwife. Storytelling is an integral part of the undergraduate midwifery curriculum at Bournemouth University and offers students an opportunity to hear and learn from each other. The stories are often powerful and bring mixed emotions to the classroom, from laughter to tears. Below are a number of links to stories created by our students. Happy reading and thank you for celebrating the International Day of the Midwife with us.
The glory isn’t all in catching babies
7.30am and I’m still yawning,
Wondering what delights will fill up my morning,
Hoping for a labourer with a baby to catch,
Sniffing the toast, as someone prepares a new batch,
I ponder my aims, as my mentor walks through the door,
Today I will be courageous, I think, Today I will do more
I will communicate effectively, I will commit to auscultate,
I will be caring and compassionate, I will competently palpate,
Its 7.45, handover, we head down the hall,
Triage room, crowding in, I balance on a birthing ball,
Word exchanges are technical, we’re given term primip,
She’s had pethidine, she’s struggling she’s rhesus positive,
Time to meet her, Knock knock, she’s jelly on the bed,
Her partner looks concerned, he says ‘she’s clearly off her head!’
We reassure this is normal, nothing here is strange.
Full set of obs with consent, all within normal range
Take fetal heart every 15 minutes, document, offer tea,
Woman’s rousing contractions stronger, relying on support from me,
She cannot stand her partner, she curses blames and screams,
He ducks two slaps, she vomits on him, we give her cyclizine,
He looks distraught, says ‘it’s not like her’, she chugs on gas and air,
We explain, this can happen, deep down she knows you care,
The hour’s progress slowly 3 in 10 won’t turn to 4,
We hold her hand, we explain, and move her round to labour ward,
The consensus is for Synto, I keep her positive,
‘Don’t leave me’ she says as I near the end of my shift,
She’s not fully dilated, ‘just breathe it through’ I say,
I repeat it like a mantra as pain hits her wave on wave,
Synto’s working, more contractions, they are stronger,
But its 8.15pm, I wonder, should I stay longer?
Midwives handover, clock is ticking, I decide to stay,
I’ll wait just a little longer before I walk away,
I forget the notes, I hold her hand, full dilatation comes and goes,
She strains, pushes, works hard but progress? Too slow.
11.00 doctor’s saunter in, ‘Theatre, forceps.’ they say,
But my bed beckons, now I HAVE to walk away.
Grab my bag 11.30, I’m still yawning
Knowing it all starts again in the morning
A Birth Poem
Early one morning I crawl out of bed
Thousands of thoughts spinning round in my head
I usher the kids out of the door
Picking their school bags up off the floor
As I drive to the hospital in the dark and the cold
I wonder what surprises my day will hold
I enter the staff room and put down my bag
Make a quick coffee and pick up a mag
Handover arrives and we all pile in
Eager to know how the nightshift has been.
My mentor and I are assigned to room nine
a labouring lady who is doing just fine
A primip with mec is curled up on the bed
A tired looking husband is stroking her head
The midwife hands over with a smile and a yawn
She will be tucked up in bed when this baby is born
We chat to the couple expecting a boy
You can tell by their faces they are filled with such joy
A contraction begins and mum breathes in deep
‘Ouch’ she proclaims ‘I just want to sleep!’
Obs are recorded and all seems well
Baby is moving…if you watch, you can tell!
Heart rate is strong, variability good
Behaving exactly as a good baby should
As time ticks away mum gets eager to push
Dad asks a question and she tells him to ‘ssshh’
a comfy position is assumed on the bed
And I have a look for the baby’s head
Pushing commences with a grunt and groan
And dad sends one last text on his phone
The delivery pack is out and ready
Baby’s clothes in the cot with a small soft teddy
Mum pushes down with all her might
Holding my hand…..a little too tight!
Soon we can see some dark brown hair
More encouragement given ‘your nearly there!’
As the head descends all seems well
Heart rate is strong as far as we can tell
Dad is looking pale so I smile and nod
‘Mum is doing a really great job’
We check that we have all the equipment we need,
My mentor exits to call for the paed
I wash my hands, put on my gloves
Keeping an eye on those last minute shoves
I look up at mum ‘now listen to me’
‘little push, little pant and then we shall see’
As the head crowns slowly, bringing the face
Dad looks a little all over the place
Restitution begins and the head starts to turn
Now is the time for me to learn
I place my hands where I know I should
Mum asks ‘can I push?’ and I say she could
Gentle traction applied to deliver the baby
Up to tummy of my lovely lady
Cord clamped and then cut by an emotional dad
Syntometrine I/m……not so bad!
Now for the third stage, placenta and all
I wait for separation from the uterine wall
I guard the uterus and use CCT
Controlled cord traction to you and me
The placenta is delivered and mum is intact
Some tea and some toast is the way to react
Off to the sluice to check all the bits
The placenta, the membranes and delivery kits
‘All complete’ I smile and say ‘I want to do this everyday’
I take the refreshments down room nine
Mum, dad and baby are fine
As I watch intently the baby’s first feed
Mum grabs my hand with a sense of need
‘I wanted to say you were great today, was this your first baby?’
‘Yes’ I say
(1st year Student Midwife)
You ask me to reflect on a memory but it’s impossible to choose just one, life changing moments I’ve witnessed a ton.
So I’ll write about something that’s really stuck with me, a number of experiences that highlight one thing really is key.
The strength of a woman is often untold, yet it is truly something to behold.
In her body she can grow new life, women are so much more than just a wife.
I met a lady who has just birthed her eleventh child, yet finds the time to treat all living creatures in a way that is caring and mild.
Eleven kids, two dogs and a cat, and she probably won’t stop at that!
A lady whose husband left her by phone, but she is determined to conquer this pregnancy alone. She doesn’t know why he let her go, all the reasons she may never know. But her top priority is her unborn son, nothing else matters now he’s number one.
The lady who used a sperm donor, totally embracing the fact that as a mother she may be a loner.
She may not have a partner with this to share, but she can hardly contain her excitement as she sits in the consulting chair.
The one who sits breastfeeding her newborn babe til the early hours of the morn, she hasn’t slept since her daughter was born. Yet she is determined to nourish her with only the best, for now she is not concerned about rest.
Her job now is to love and protect, that she will do til her very last breath.
From the couple who are almost 50 years old, after years of trying “You’re pregnant” they are finally told. They’d almost given up when the miracle happened. On their last round of IVF they got the positive test.
To the 18 year old who’s boyfriend is now in jail, but now she’s a mother she is determined not to fail. She will choose the safety of her baby over her man, her mum says she can’t but she knows she can.
The diversity of these women is fascinating but one thing links them all. They are about to experience the most meaningful event in their lives, and we are here to help them whenever they call.
As community midwives we build a strong rapport, we are there through the whole pregnancy and then again once they bring baby home through the front door.
Each have their own unique story to tell, we may have known them months but after just ten days we must wish them well.
Second year is so completely different to the first,
There really is no preparing so you think ‘do your worse’
The expectations from our mentors are very different
They expect you to take more of a lead, to know more in an instant.
You are expected to be more confident and hands on,
No more standing against the wall where you used to belong,
No more hiding behind the ‘Im a 1st year’ line,
No matter how much you want to hide it’s sink or swim time.
The assessments are harder and much more intense,
Patho, meds management, caseloading, safe medicate,
The revision, the learning, the pushing the limits,
The wine, the pizza, the chocolate and biscuits.
The transition is hard and doubts creep in,
Can I handle the pressure or will I give in?
It reminds me of a woman in transition in labour,
The change in mood, anxiety, pain and anger.
The ‘I can’t go on’, the ‘get me out of here’
The ‘I can’t do this anymore’, ‘do I make myself clear?!’
Then comes that moment, things start to make sense,
The exams are over, it’s a bit less intense.
I may have passed all my exams but do not be fooled, it’s been far from easy,
The revision is hard, the nerves are intense, my stomach queasy
I have had many a moment when I have wanted to quit,
Where walking off the course would be the easy bit.
But like a woman in labour I have a very supportive partner,
Cheering me on, holding my hand, cracking jokes and providing the laughter,
We all have someone to remind us why we are doing this,
Listen to their words, believe in yourself that you can do this.
The girls by your side are going through the same,
Some are finding it harder than others but we all have the same aim,
Let’s look out for each other and offer the support where it’s needed,
Let’s follow in the footsteps of those who have already succeeded.
So yes, the transition is hard, but you are more than half way through,
And with good friends by your side we will get through this together
Supporting, sharing, laughing and crying, memories which will last forever.
The third year is in sight, just one more year until we qualify together.
By Claire Price (2016)
The Kindness of Mum
First day of placement, wanna make a good impression,
But palms sweaty, mouth dry, I’m fearful in confession.
Shuffle in the room to meet my first mummy,
She’s warm and smiles, lets me feel her tummy.
I palpate her bump and try to work out,
Where this baby is as she trusts me completely, no shadow of a doubt.
We laugh, we joke, she’s supportive and caring,
I’m proud to be looking after her, my anxiety is wearing.
A short time later, we meet again,
To my new mentor I explain the what, why, when.
Pride overcomes me as I realise,
I’m running this joint, I see the trust in their eyes.
I search for signs and symptoms and finally decide,
All is well, my investigations can reside.
She giggles and a sniggers at an intimate time,
A stretch and sweep to see what we can find.
This baby is comfy, that’s for sure,
Intuition tells me this won’t last much more.
If only she could plan her birth so I could attend
I tell her ‘No nights and deffo not this weekend!’
An onlooker spots a trusting relationship
Suggests I should be there, if she is okay with it?
I eagerly pace to ask the question,
Shrill excitement, a hug, ‘I’ll take that as a yes then?’
Roused in the night, sleepy head and tired eyes,
I get the all-important call; from my bed I rise.
Race down the motorway to get there on time,
Anxious, excited, debating what I might find.
A woman so calm, so confident in her body,
The beauty empowers me, I stand back and study.
She’s holding back slightly, ‘I don’t want to poo!!’
An expression I’ve surprisingly become accustomed to!
Not long later her little boy,
Born into water such a calming joy.
He’s guided through her legs and up to her chest,
She catches him with a surge of love and FINALLY a peaceful rest.
Skin to skin with mum then to dad’s bare chest,
Though they’re first meeting, an onlooker would protest.
‘I couldn’t have done it without you!’ though little does she know,
‘You did it on your own, you were incredible, I was just privileged to be at the show!’
Some days later, I recognise her name,
Her and babe, for their day five check-up, have came.
I run the appointment and think of how far I have come,
From lack of confidence to taking care of this mum.
A card I receive and discover inside,
A snapshot of me holding her son, I beam with pride.
Such lovely messages from the first family I helped to support,
Feeling emotional, a lump in my throat is caught.
I gave her a hug and wished her well as she went,
‘Enjoy your baby boy,’ I exclaim, ‘Cherish every moment’
I’m sad to say goodbye though it is bitter sweet,
For now, my work here is done and her family complete.
It’s not however the entire experience that astounds me,
It’s the fact she was accommodating, encouraging and a part of her life, she allowed me?!
Of all I have learnt and how far I have come,
It’s not the tireless mentor support but the kindness of mum.
That got me through that first shift and allowed me to bloom,
For that, I am forever thankful you allow me in the room.
In all your vulnerability you helped me to see,
The midwife I am now and the midwife I want to be.