A lot has happened since I last did a blog post. Everything has been a bit of a whirlwind these past few months.
The last time I wrote, I had nearly finished my 10-week block of placement, and after that we all had a very much needed 3 weeks off (this feels like forever ago). I say three weeks off, but I had a big load of university work to catch up on, I moved house, and picked up some shifts as a Maternity Care Assistant for some extra income and experience.
Once we had finished our time off, we then went back to university for one week. This was mainly for a catch up in between everything that had happened on placement. It had pretty much been 13 weeks since we had all seen each other on the course, so we did a lot of reflecting about things that had happened on placement. We were then straight back out to placement for another six weeks. I started off doing three weeks in the community and then three weeks on the birth unit.
I think one of the main things I was disappointed about in the community was that I never got to see a home birth. I put myself ‘on-call’ to all the midwives possible, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. One day it will happen. One tip that I would give to any future or current students, is to try and get yourself stuck into as many new learning experiences as possible. When I was in the community, I went to an aquanatal class – it was so much fun and I could really see how relaxing and beneficial it would be to a pregnant woman, as it gives them the ability to exercise, as well as to feel weightless.
I worked with the bereavement midwife on one of my shifts on the birth unit, when she invited me to come and work with her for the day. I thought that I would feel really ‘low’ after spending the day meeting women who had lost their babies. However, I felt really positive. It made me realise what a fantastic service my trust is able to offer, and although my heart completely went out to these women and their families, I knew they were really benefiting from this service.
One of the main reasons I wanted to work with the bereavement midwife is because I wanted to prepare myself for my second year on the delivery suite, where there is the possibility of looking after a woman who has suffered a stillbirth. My concern was how to communicate with the women and their partners. What could you possibly say that would make them feel better?! Well, the truth is that nothing can be said. Just offering to listen and reassurance makes the world of the difference to them. It was a really positive experience and I would recommend it to anyone towards the end of their first year.
Next, I went back to the birth unit for my remaining three weeks of placement for my first year. Although I worked predominantly with my mentor, I did work a few shifts with other midwives. I personally found it really useful doing this. I really enjoy learning how different people look after women when they are in labour and that immediate postpartum period. During this placement we had our ‘Summative’ reviews – which basically determines whether we have passed or failed our placement paperwork for our first year. That was pretty daunting considering I had mine my second week back! But it all went really well, and I finished my placement on a massive high, and really proud of everything that I have achieved.
Two days after we had finished placement, we had our objective structured clinical examinations (OSCE’s). I was absolutely terrified. In our first year we are told that they can either be on an antenatal, postnatal or neonatal examination. We have 20 minutes to basically ‘act out’ or ‘perform’ what we would do in a certain scenario. We had ours on breastfeeding, and I never thought I would be able to keep talking for a solid 20 minutes on breastfeeding. Well, when I’m under pressure I tend to waffle a lot, so I just ran out of time. But I went through a postnatal examination, attachment and positioning, the importance of skin to skin, hand expressing etc. so I hope I have just done enough. We get out grades back in a couple of weeks so please wish me luck!
So we now have 3 more weeks of university, and we’re done for first year! It’s gone by so quickly, I can’t believe it. People do not lie when they say how quickly this course goes by. After that we have a 5 week retrieval period, and then three weeks of annual leave over Christmas – so I’m not actually back in university until the end of January 2017. I will be sure to write once we’ve had our first 8-week block in university, and I can tell you what it’s like to be a second year.
Have a lovely Christmas and New Year everyone!
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