A few weeks ago, I embarked on a journey along the Great Western Highway to Bathurst Base Hospital. Having only ever been at Hornsby Hospital during my Bachelor of Midwifery, I was overwhelmed with both excitement and anxiety around what was awaiting me.
Luckily, I was able to stay with my sister, who provided me with comfort food and advice, as she had also been placed at the same hospital as a medical student.
The first day
Entering the maternity ward, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, I was made to immediately feel so welcomed, with everyone smiling, introducing themselves and asking questions about where I was from and how far long I was in my degree.
Something that really struck a cord with me was when a midwife, who was handing over, advised that a student should be taken into the special care nursery as it was really busy. This instantly made me feel useful and welcomed, rather than a nuisance. Their friendly attitude fostered a great learning environment, as I felt comfortable asking questions and didn’t feel that I needed to prove my worth.
Learning on the job
The educator allowed me to be super flexible with my roster. I was able to do a mixture of morning, afternoon and night shifts, as well as some on call shifts, all to help me gain as much experience as possible.
Because of this, I was able to partake in an array of experiences, ranging from emergency situations to beautiful normal vaginal births, all in just two weeks. One morning, I was assisting with the active resuscitation of a newborn, who ended up needing to be transferred to Sydney for more respiratory support, and the next day, I was helping catch a baby in the shower!
Support given and received
During my two weeks in Bathurst, I was lucky enough to attend two midwifery group practice births. Midwifery group practice is a model of care, where one midwife provides all antenatal, labour and birth and postnatal care for approximately 48 women a year. Witnessing the relationships and trust built between these midwives and the women they provided care for was inspiring and reignited my passion to work within that model of care as early as possible in my midwifery career.
It was amazing to see how the principles of promoting physiological birth were implemented for all women, not just for women who asked or had a birth plan. All women were encouraged to stay mobile, use water immersion and had the lights turned down with aromatherapy during labour.
These midwives enlightened me to what they referred to as ‘midwifery voodoo’ – different maternal positions that aid the descent of the baby and help with the progress of labour. It was refreshing to see them use foundational midwifery skills that are evidence-based and have been used for generations across the globe.
Bathurst was an amazing experience. Rural placement is something I would recommend to all students. Although it took some adjusting to get used to working in a new hospital, as I had only ever been placed at Hornsby, it showed me that midwifery can take us anywhere and we can travel the world doing what we love.
It’s so exciting thinking about where midwifery will take me and I have come out of this experience more determined to make sure I work in a continuity of care model such as midwifery group practice during my midwifery career.
To read more student experiences on rural placement, check out this blog.