Top 5 Tips For The Aspiring Midwife

Screenshot_20160525-122450_1Hello future student Midwives! Just a little note to introduce myself –  My name is Kelly and I am a third year student midwife studying at UWE in Bristol.  I will be coming along to give a presentation at the bumps ‘n’ babies Aspiring Midwife Study Day on Saturday the 4th June at Cossham hospital. I’ll be talking about life as a student midwife to give you an insight to  – the academic side, clinical placements, expectations and realities etc. So jot down a list of any questions, concerns and queries that you might have and I will be more than happy to address them on the day.

There are just a few tickets left for this event that proved to be very popular last year, so join me, and midwives Sharon and Jade, to learn more about the journey to becoming a midwife.

Clink on this link for more info – Aspiring Midwife Study Day

Here are Kelly’s Top 5 Tips for the Aspiring Midwife

  • Looking after the public enables you to care for a variety of women and their families. During your placements expect the unexpected, and when situations arise always remain professional, treat everyone equally and most importantly keep yourself, your colleagues and your women and families safe.

 

  • Sexual health, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Loss and Parenthood are some of the most common, yet unique experiences women and families encounter in life. During your training and career as a midwife always remind yourself that although these experiences are common, normal and frequent to you, for the women this is their individualised, special and unique pregnancy so always be just as excited, enthusiastic and compassionate each time.

 

  • Prepare to be extremely tired – working shifts, meeting academic deadlines, social and family life are manageable but you have to be organised – you will get use to it over time!

 

  • Read, read and more reading –knowledge is power. Start with the simple things, NHS choices is a reliable source to get started on pregnancy pathways, terminology and the maternity services that are available. Familiarise yourself with the basics and then use midwifery textbooks such as Mayes and Myles midwifery for more in depth information.

 

  • As a student midwife always remember you are there to learn, to grow and to deliver a safe and professional service. Even if you have children of your own or have other midwifery experience – there is always something new and valuable to learn from each woman and from the midwives, be a sponge, and absorb it all!

Looking forward to meeting you all soon!

Kelly

xx

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Bristol, the best place to have a baby!

clifton-suspension-bridge-balloons-bristolIn 2013 Bristol was named best city in the UK to live in. This came as no surprise to us Bristolians, we know we’ve got it pretty good living here. Just one look online at right move will tell you that many are flocking to our city to grab a piece of the action, flippin’ house prices going through the roof – arghh!!! So why do people love Bristol? Well it’s not just the place itself but the people: Us Bristolians are a pretty chilled out, unassuming lot.

When the one born every minute cameras set up camp in one of Bristol’s large obstetric units in 2014 we could see for ourselves how easy going the midwives were. We watched as they supported many women birthing their babies in water, standing up, on all fours, surrounded by bean bags, pillows and mats etc. Even HYPNOBIRTHING got a mention! Fair play to those midwives, as any midwife will tell you keeping birth as natural as possible on a busy, highly medicalised labour ward can be a challenge, it takes a fair bit of encouragement from the midwives to make this happen.

Across the city at the other large obstetric unit things were even more easy going. Yes it’s true; a therapy dog did in fact accompany a woman in labour as she birthed her baby on labour ward, and what a cracking birth partner he was!! Sitting quietly in the corner, no demanding cups of tea every half hour, no questioning ‘how long is this all gonna take’. Maybe we should replace all the dads with a lovely Labrador and see how well the women birth then. I’m sure the famous French male obstetrician Michel Odent would be up for that cos he’s not too keen on dads at the birth!

Meanwhile, a few floors up on the induction of labour unit, a couple decided to use their initiative to induce labour naturally. An overdue pregnant lady and her chap were caught having jiggy by one of the cleaners. Brilliant!! What gets them babies in also gets ‘em out!  News of this reached America to the famous birth guru Ina May Gaskin who was also really impressed. She said on her facebook page “Good for St Michaels hospital in Bristol. The prostaglandins in semen can be most effective in starting labour. I hope it worked for this couple and thought the reporter should have found out!” Ha, her comment was liked by over 4k of her followers!

The daily mail got a hold of both of these stories and the readers were quick to leave their thoughts in the comments section no doubt thinking that us Bristolian midwives are completely bonkers. No we’re not bonkers, just open minded.

You’ve also got a great choice of where to give birth in Bristol. Over the last 3 years many babies have been born at the brand spanking new Cossham birth centre. The first baby girl born there in 2013 was a bumpsnbabies hypnobaby! Read Andrea’s birth story here.

And both the major obstetric units in the city have also opened new midwife led birth suites alongside their labour wards because research shows that a relaxing home from home environment with care from supportive midwives encourages the birth process. 4946776-large

This month the St Michael’s midwife led unit officially opened by the late Lynda Bellingham back in June 2013 was ranked top in the country for it’s maternity services!! How proud are we!!

Of course let’s not forget home birth too. I know of a few roads in Bristol that are ‘hot spots’ for home births, keeping those community midwives busy!!

Bristol is also a mum and baby friendly place to be, which is a good thing cos it’s a city literally full of bumps ‘n’ babies. As you walk down North street in Bedminster you feel like you’re on some sort of assault course negotiating all the pregnant women and buggies. The tobacco factory, bubbahub and the hungry caterpillar are just some of the many breastfeeding friendly cafes in the area; you’ll often see a babe on the boob as mumma sups a latte. No need to head off to the loo to breastfeed here. And no wonder the women here are happy to get their ‘Bristols’ out because did you know that in 2010 Bristol was the first city ever in the UK to receive the prestigious UNICEF baby friendly award for promoting and supporting breastfeeding mothers. Go Bristol!!!

And for those of you wondering why boobs are called Bristols, well here’s your answer, its good ol’ cockney rhyming slang for ‘titties’  ‘A fine pair of Bristols Cities’ = ‘titties’. What is that all about? How does a bloke manage to link the football team Bristol City with women’s boobs?

A few other Bristol things to rave about:

The fab free positive birth meet ups for expectant parents and anyone else interested in the world of birth.

Bristol’s street art, even that happens to be mum and baby friendly, this one by artist El Mac is obviously our fav! street art

So there you have it, just a few reasons why Bristol is the best city to have a baby, but shhhh don’t tell everyone, especially those from the big smoke thinking of relocating to a smaller city cos did I mention the housing market here? and for us midwives at bumpsnbabies trying to move house right now it’s a bloody nightmare!!

Sharon x

http://www.bumpsnbabies.org

10 things a midwife has heard many times

 

Phonto (1)
  • ‘Never again!’   The classic phrase muttered by many women usually in the throes of labour. Of course us midwives believe you, even though we know you’ll be back again for baby number 2, 3, 4, 5.
  • ‘We don’t care whether it’s a boy or a girl, as long as it’s not ginger!’  Said with true conviction by many a mum or dad-to-be, please remember though there are ginger midwives within ear shot!!
  • ‘I think the parking ticket has expired’   A popular phrase said by the dads . The parking, that one job he has to take care of as the woman has the momentous task of birthing a tiny human. No don’t leave her just as the baby’s crowning to sort it out, she won’t thank you for it!
  • ‘This stuff is frickin’ amazing!’  Said by the woman who has just been handed the gas and air, and yes she is right!! Who ever came up with this wonder drug is a hero, we salute you!
  • ‘Don’t put it on facebook …!!’  Said by both new parents to the mother-in-law as she takes it upon herself to announce the new arrival to the whole world via social media before the woman’s even had chance to birth her placenta and put her knickers back on.
  • ‘But what if I poo?’  Said by the mum-to-be in early labour. The midwife’s response – ‘You might, you might not, don’t worry about it, sometimes in life sh*t just happens….!’
  • ‘I’m not looking forward to having a poo!’  Said by many a new mum on the postnatal ward. Midwife’s response – It’ll be fine, trust us, once that first post birth poo is passed everything seems right with the world.
  • ‘When can I go home?’  Said by the excited first time mum with a newborn just a few hours old that hasn’t quite got the hang of breastfeeding yet. As opposed to ‘How long can I stay?’  Said by the mother of baby number 4 who has a pile of washing waiting for her at home, along with 3 other kids and a hubby that all want feeding.
  • ‘Pass me a nappy, no they’re not in that bag, they’re in the other bag, no not there, more towards the left under the sleep suits, no that’s a vest not a sleepsuit!’  Said by many a new mum to her hubby as she recovers in bed with a baby attached to her boob. Word of advice from us midwives – get the hubby to pack the birth bags, then he’ll know where everything is!
  • ‘God I’ve had such a great night sleep on this busy postnatal ward’ – Said no new mum EVER!!!

 

Sharon x

http://www.bumpsnbabies.org

Perceptions and Birth Stories

perception

There is no truth, there is only perception……… Gustave Flaubert

Yes it’s another one of those irritating quotes that pops up as you scroll through your instagram account. But before you roll your eyes and groan, think about it, it’s true – There is no truth only perception.  When it comes to a birth story how much is truth and how much is perception? Us midwives love a birth story. Sometimes we hear the story from several people that were there at the birth, all chipping in with their own version of events and that’s when this quote really hits home, because one person can perceive an experience way differently to another.  A woman who has laboured high on a dose of birth hormones, adrenaline and some gas and air thrown in the mix will tell you her version of events, but then so too will her mother and her partner that were there with her and they all tell the story slightly differently. Confusing? Yes! So what is the truth? What really did happen during that birth? Who knows.  Let’s not forget there was another person in that room too with her version / perception of events …the midwife!   Us midwives know we have a massive role to play in a woman’s birth experience, but probably only to a degree, the rest is down to her and the way she perceive the event.

Let’s go back to the gas and air for a minute. Gas and air is fantastic stuff. It’s a mind bending, thought altering, wonder drug. It takes you to another planet where you just don’t give a toss about anything. Many women get right off their faces on it in labour. ‘This stuff is bloody amazing!’ they say as they cling onto the mouth piece for dear life. The gas is seen as her new BFF and she aint givin’ it up for no one. You know when a woman is in ‘gas land’ when she comes out with random things in-between contractions with a strange smile on her face. “Everyone just seems so far away man…just totally thought I was Barry White”. Yep, she’s in gas land. So if she thinks she’s Barry White what else does she perceive about this momentous moment in her life that will shape her version of her ‘birth story’.

Likewise another biggy when it comes to altering perceptions during birth is the beast that is adrenaline. Adrenaline flowing through a woman’s body in labour will trigger the flight or fight response within her. She becomes stressed, perceives she is in danger, fearful thoughts run through her mind. She leaps off the bed mid contraction yelling “that’s it, no more, I’m going home”.   She wants to flee the danger that she perceives, but of course she doesn’t get very far, she’s in rip roaring labour and about to have a baby. All that adrenalin surging through her body isn’t particularly helpful during labour and is likely to influence her perception of the birth in a negative way.

And why is it that one woman in labour can perceive the physical sensations of her contractions so differently to another? Some women describe their contractions as agonizingly painful; others report feelings of euphoria with no mention of pain at all. Perception has a part to play here too. In our hypnobirthing classes we demonstrate this idea by bringing the couples into a relaxed state and encouraging them to image that their right hand is in a bucket of cold icy water. We suggest that they perceive their hand becoming cold and then numb. We encourage them to bring their numb hand to their face and feel the numbing sensation transfer to their cheek and mouth. At the end of this hypnosis script the couples themselves seem pretty baffled at what they’ve just experienced. There is no bucket of icy water, that’s the truth, so how come they genuinely felt that their hand was icy cold and numb? What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve” ( Naploean Hill ). Clever stuff eh!

So can us midwives really influence a woman’s birth story in a positive way? Well yes, obviously it goes without saying, being kind, showing compassion etc. but it’s not always that simple thanks to good ol’ perception. The calm voice and those reassuring words that you used worked a treat as you supported a woman through her labour last week. The encouragement you gave to spur her on through her labour was spot on. She sent you a lovely thank you card and a cracking box of chocolates. In the card she wrote “Your kind but strong words helped me avoid the epidural that I considered having, I had a fantastic birth experience, thank you”.  But beware, woe betide the midwife that thinks she’s cracked it and becomes smug, thinking she’s worthy of a midwife of the year award, because tomorrow you might find yourself in a similar situation; you care for another woman in the same way, yet she perceives your encouragement as patronising and insensitive. She perceives that you prevented her from having her happydural and her birth story is far from positive. No thank you card or box of choccies from her. You feel deflated, cussing yourself that you got it so wrong this time, you bad midwife you.

Most women will have some recollection of the day they gave birth, but it seems time also has a part to play. A woman’s birth story can alter over time, cleverly edited by her mind with key events highlighted that she remembers forever, others becoming foggy and maybe less relevant to her. We shouldn’t dismiss a woman’s perception of events during her labour as irrelevant because it’s not. A woman’s birth story is exactly that – her birth story and that’s fine. Life is based on perception. Perception is based on opinion. Opinion is based on thought. Thought comes from the mind. So as midwives whilst we have some control over certain factors that influence a woman’s birth story, whether positively or negatively, we cannot fully control her perceptions.

Sharon x

http://www.bumpsnbabies.org

 

Compu’er says no!

computer says no

I had a slight meltdown on labour ward the other day, a meltdown that resulted in an argument between me and….. a computer system. Yea we’ve all been there, I’m sure many of you can relate to this.

There seems to be more and more machines and computer systems on labour ward these days, all designed to ‘help’ us do our jobs more safely and more efficiently (that’s if you can remember all your passwords!) Number one is the maternity computer system, that holds all the patient details, and where we record everything about a woman’s labour. You need your username and password to use this system. Then you need a different username and password on a different computer system to request blood tests and check results. Another username and password to use the fetal blood sample machine, another to use the glucometer machine, another for the urinalysis machine… the list goes on and on. Hang on a minute, all this technology just to have a baby??!!! Really??

My meltdown with the computer began when I entered a request for a blood test on the computer system for a woman I was looking after, and the compu’er said no! So not only did I need to ask permission from the computer to do the blood test in the first place, it then told me NO! It told me I had already requested this test today on this patient and was I really sure that I wanted to repeat this test again. Now hang on a minute, I’ve got a computer questioning my decision to do a blood test, surely this can’t be right, what’s next? The computer telling me that the woman’s labour is taking too long and she should be given drugs to speed it up? This will probably happen in the future, I kid you not (shudders). So after muttering ‘bloody computers’ under my breath I stomped off to the staff room for a cuppa and a Jaffa cake and had a flick through my iPhone whilst continuing to moan about computers taking over the world (oh the irony!)

But let’s face it; women did manage years ago to give birth without all of this. Please take me back to ‘call the midwife days’ when all midwives needed were a pair of gloves, clamps and scissors to cut the cord and a pen and paper to jot down the crucial details – time of birth, weight, sex of the baby. Job done. I’m pretty sure that in the not too distant future, as well as carrying a pair of gloves in their pockets, all midwives will be carrying ipads to input everything they say and do as they go. Oh well, that’ll be one more thing that’ll get dropped in the birth pool no doubt (along with the pagers, drug cupboard keys, and the fetal heart monitors!)

Of course there’s no stopping progress and I know we need to embrace these changes, but we’re talking about birth here not a bank transaction. Birth is a spiritual moment that brings people together. Birth brings everyone in its presence into the ‘present’ and reminds you of what’s really important in life. The definition of the word midwife is ‘with woman’ not ‘with computer’. If the midwife is interacting with the computers and all the other machines around her then she’s not interacting with the woman, and us midwives know that a woman in labour needs continual emotional support more than anything else, and that’s something a machine cannot provide.

So is all this technology in the birth room actually more of a hindrance than a help? Well maybe one day there won’t be any need for us midwives at all cos maybe there will be another machine designed to catch all the babies too!

Sharon x

http://www.bumpsnbabies.org

Midwife approved list of what to pack in your hospital bag

hospital bag

Giving birth is an unpredictable event; usually you don’t know when it’ll happen, or how long it’ll take. You might get lucky and have a super speedy labour and not need much from the list we’ve compiled below, but our motto is that of the Girl Guides – ‘Always be prepared!’

For you

Your iPod/pad/phone AND CHARGER!!! With the hypnobirthing tracks on them of course!!! Also make your own playlist in case you fancy something a bit more energetic, something by the prodigy maybe??!!

Fresh water in a sports bottle Don’t bother faffing around with a plastic cup and straw or you’ll likely end up with the straw rammed up your nostril and a face full of water mid contraction!

Jelly babies The instant pick me up when your energy levels are flagging, midwives love a jelly baby on a night shift too! 🙂

Food for him You never know how long your labour will take and a hungry birth partner = a grumpy birth partner, so pack some of his favourite snacks to keep him going otherwise he’ll be ringing his mum to drop by with some sandwiches

Isotonic drinks Just in case the vending machine is out of order, pack a few bottles

Bikini for the birth pool Us midwives have seen it all before but this whole  ‘getting your kit off’ in front of strangers is probably a new thing for you (probably), so just wear whatever is most comfortable for you, bikini, bathing suit, birthday suit, whatever.

Yoga mat A tad controversial this one, it’s for the men to have a snooze on if they’re super tired and the only option is the floor.  No he won’t be snoozing at that crucial moment when you’re birthing his baby, but he might just need 40 winks before the drive home maybe?

Hair band The good ol’ 90’s scrunchy is the best otherwise your other half is rummaging around in your make bag looking for your hair bobble for an eternity.

Change for the car park  Yes you need to take out a small mortgage these days for hospital parking but if you ask nicely you might be entitled to a free pass, worth a go!

Your birth plan.  Laminated, with key points highlighted (only joking) make sure you give it to the midwife looking after you.

Lip balm Gas and air = dry lips, nuff said

Flannel Yes it’s not just something we midwives suggested in the good old days, women in labour these days still need their brows mopped with a cool damp flannel!

Warm socks We’ve lost count of the number of women we’ve looked after in labour that have stripped off completely bar their socks! Must be something to do with blood flow going to the uterus leaving the extremities cold maybe?

Hot water bottle Great to put on your lower back or under the bump to ease any cramping. Be warned the midwives might not be able to re-fill it (due to elf ‘n’ safety) but if that’s the case ask if they have any heat packs you can use instead.

Big pants and proper brick like sanitary pads. Panty liners just won’t cut it if your waters have gone nor will they just after you’ve had the bubba – think 9 months of periods all in one go, gross but true. You could also try the TENA lady incontinence pants (we won’t judge you honest!) Oh and leave those lacy thongs at home, only big, baggy dark pants will do, yes motherhood is sexy!

Tracky bottoms (dark ones obvs.) and a zip up hoody for after the birth. Much comfier than jeans and teamed with a zip up top = easy access for breastfeeding and you’ll be looking bang on trend on the postnatal ward!

Flip flops  There’s just something a bit grannyish about plodding around a hospital in your slippers don’t you think? Flip flops can also be worn in the shower.

Lansinoh nipple cream Pricey but so worth it, put a smidge on after every feed keeps ‘em super soft and keeps the cracks at bay

Pillows.  There’s either a tone of pillows on labour ward or none at all, so to be sure best to bring your own, maybe sprinkle a few drops of lavender oil on them for added relaxation.

Nursing bras, and maybe a few breast pads too in case you’re ‘that woman’ with an abundance of breast milk and could easily nurse all the babies on the ward and still have some left over.

Toiletry bag with  shower gel, deodorant, shampoo & conditioner (do they still make wash and go??) and BB cream, well you wanna be looking glam for those post birth photos don’t you?!

 

For baby

Disposable nappies Even if you’ve invested in the washable ones, for infection control reasons just use disposable nappies whilst in hospital.

Cotton wool For cleaning baby’s bottom, wipes can be a tad harsh on their peachy cheeks initially, so best to save the wipes for a few days down the line if you can.

Vests, sleep suits, and a hat. Yes the pink frilly Dior dress is adorable but trust us, for those first few days it’s all about being practical and although the poppers will drive you a bit insane at 3am the sleep suit is the way to go for practicality.

 A nice warm blanket Yes the knitted ones are very classy but the warmest are those cheap fleece ones from Matalan, honest!

 

  • Top Tips – Make full use of the NHS linen, i.e. towels, cot sheets and baby blankets. It’ll save you the hassle of packing and washing your own!
  • Pack a little treat for yourself, maybe a mini bottle of prosecco??, or a scrumptious bar of chocolate?? after all you’re the one that’s done all the hard work, congratulations, you rock!!

Sharon , Katheryn & Jade xxx

Guest Blog Post! The Life Of A Student Midwife

student midwifeGuest blog post from Jess a student midwife in her 2nd year of training giving us a little insight into the life of a ‘student baby catcher’.

Being asked what career pathway you want to follow when you are only 16 seems like a massive request, but for me I always knew that someday I wanted to become a midwife. I could see myself caring for women throughout their pregnancy, labour and postnatal period and having great honour in sharing these times with women. I have always been a people person (or so my mum says!) and love chatting to a variety of different individuals. Here I am following my dream! Half way through my second year of midwifery training and loving every single moment, each day I learn something new and life couldn’t be better! So I thought I would give you an insight on what it’s like to be a student midwife in 2015, with the three best and worst things about being a student midwife. Three not so great things:

1. As an undergraduate student midwife, you are required to attend for 45 weeks of each year for three years. Meaning that we aren’t your typical party animal university students (or so I think?) … placements, lectures and essays take up the majority of your time and balancing a social life can be difficult!

2. So each placement is 6 weeks, and in each placement you get allocated a mentor who is a fully qualified midwife. Each midwife practices slightly differently and by the time you’ve got used to how one midwife practices it’s time to move on! Just when you start to feel like you are getting into the swing of things.

3. After 6 weeks out on placement going back to university must be one of the hardest tasks (well for me anyway!) … It feels strange being sat in a lecture theatre for hours at a time when on placement you were normally non-stop for the majority of the shift. Saying that I do love catching up with the rest of my cohort’s midwifery journeys!

Three fabulous things:
1. When they say that midwifery is the best job in the world … they sure didn’t underestimate that one! As a student we are supernumerary which is great because it means that we get to spend more time with you, and that’s where we learn so much as believe it or not no two women are the same! It’s great knowing that just chatting to you can put you at ease and make such a difference to your experience.

2. As a student, we are made to feel a part of the team … before you ask that does mean partaking in drinking cups of tea and eating cake, which, of course, is a very important part of the job! Your mentor becomes your personal guru of midwifery knowledge and wisdom, and by the end of your 6 weeks you feel slightly sad about moving on.

3. ‘Catching’ or delivering a baby must be the greatest feeling in the world! It is such a magical and honourable experience to welcome a new life into the world, the pride and love that a mother and her partner have at that moment is something that can never be replicated. I am extremely thankful that as a student midwife I am able to share such an amazing moment with mothers from all walks of life.

There you have it, three of the best and worst things about being a student midwife. I wouldn’t change this career choice for the world and I am so thankful for all of the marvellous experiences that I have shared with women so far which have helped shape my midwifery pathway!

Jess x