The labour ward at Salisbury is usually very varied, with women who have antenatal problems and women who are booked for induction of labour, as well as labourers and newly birthed women.
The postnatal ward has a mixture of women requiring routine postnatal care, complex care, babies who are in the NICU and babies who require extra help or are being ‘normalised’ (sometimes known as transitional care). The postnatal ward midwives also provide post-operative care, so a shift can be extremely demanding.
This month I’ve seen a mixture of both high and low risk birth. In a series of night shifts I was fortunate enough to witness the birth of a beautiful baby girl into water. A primigravida, the mother was supported by her partner who was in the pool with her telling her how amazing she was and how beautiful she looked.
When the time came for her daughter to enter the world, the mother gently brought her baby to the surface. The birth was followed by a physiological third stage and an intact perineum. It was a gorgeous moment that I felt very privileged to share in.
Another birth on the labour ward, this time to a multiparous woman who had previously had a forceps birth under spinal aneasthesia. She was very anxious about the second stage so I did my best to reassure and support her.
In spontaneous labour, her pregnancy was only complicated by her positive group B streptococcus status. She was completely informed of her choices and had decided to accept antibiotics during her labour, and also wanted to use the pool.
I’ve found through my experiences with differing trusts and my experience in America, that GBS policies can be vague and trust specific. In an attempt to facilitate the birth desired by this woman, I was required to advocate her wishes and make compromises with senior staff.
After labouring in the water for four hours, a gorgeous baby boy was born on dry land. The woman was elated that her body was capable of birth without assistance. I congratulated her and transferred her to the postnatal ward. I hoped this birth helped to heal her from her previous experience.
The next night the office resembled a Christmas buffet, with cakes, biscuits, popcorn and quiche! With only two antenatal admissions all night, both of whom were suitable to return home, I was able to complete some of my K2 training package and get to know my colleagues better.
The following week I was rostered to work on the postnatal ward. The ward was full for each shift, and I felt as though I was chasing my tail constantly. I love spending time with the women, but now that I lead care for seven to eight women and their babies, I need to manage my time effectively and prioritize their needs.
Creating feeding plans for compromised babies, providing public health information to families, liaising with various members of the multi-professional team and providing spiritual care to women who hadn’t achieved the birth experience they had planned for are just some of the tasks in addition to basic postnatal care provided to the women I cared for.
After a busy few weeks, I was very grateful for my annual leave!