This Saturday, the 5th of May, is the International Day of the Midwife, a day to celebrate midwives across the world. What a magical job. What a challenging job. To guide new lives into the world. To reassure expectant mothers. To make a very real and tangible difference.
As a student midwife in my final year, I see more and more how remarkably challenging this job is. 5am wake up calls for morning shifts, night shift exhaustion; general sleep pattern disturbances. The way your legs and feet ache after a shift when you haven’t sat down once all day, realising at the end of the shift that you didn’t eat lunch (babies come when they want!), the paperwork and documentation; which is overwhelming and all-consuming.
I sometimes find it quite funny how little people understand what midwives do. When I started at the hospital I had no understanding of the depth and width of their scope of practice and craziness of their days.
I sometimes wish that my friends and family could follow me around all day, even as a student, and see what my days entail. I wish I could see their shock and amusement. But I suppose also, there’s something so special about having this insight into these transformative moments that not many people get to experience on a day-to-day basis.
For me, being a student midwife is a rollercoaster ride. There are days I feel so passionate and confident and proud of myself. Sometimes, being a student midwife all feels a bit much for me. It is a challenging role, being a student midwife, and keeping so many balls in the air: balancing challenging uni theory and assignments, long days on placement, not being able to work, being on call for births, having to put your life on hold, sometimes missing social or family events you would love to be at… My life would probably be much easier had I chosen something else.
Waking up at 7am to go to a 9am uni lecture is much easier than waking up at 5am to be at the hospital for a 7am start. An office job would be much cleaner compared to being surrounded by amniotic fluid, blood, sweat, tears, poo, urine and breast milk. I definitely have days where I feel like I should give up, when it feels like a hopeless cause that I will ever be able to do all the things I see midwives doing. But slowly, I can see myself growing in confidence and ability. I look back at where I was two years ago and see how much more I know now, and how many more things I can do.
I can see the kind of midwife I will be, and the difference I will make. And that is exciting and beautiful.
I get to experience beautiful moments of sheer joy. I help bring lovely new little lives into the world. There is nothing like the moment a baby is placed on their mother’s chest for the first time, it is such a pure and touching moment. The whole room transforms and you see this woman become a mother, whether for the first or fifth time. This still sends goose-bumps up my spine and is what keeps me coming back.
There are good days, and there are bad days. There is exhaustion and there is joy and relief. There is disappointment and there are moments where, when you take a step back, you realise you are doing the most amazing job in the world.
I truly believe that midwives are amazing. I am so excited to graduate and become a midwife, a title I will have worked so hard for. I am proud of all I have learnt and I am proud of the midwife I am becoming and the difference I will make. And I am proud to be joining a career path so rewarding and challenging, proud to join the ranks of the incredible midwives throughout the world.