Susan is a midwife who graduated with a degree in midwifery in 2008. She now works in a birth centre.
In my early 30s, I decided to change career from banking and follow my dream into midwifery. It took just under five years from making the decision to starting my job.
The degree course was both academic and practical. You are 'hands-on' from your very first day. I gained communication skills and learned about working with people, different lifestyles and communities, plus, of course, working within an NHS hospital.
It also covered regulations governing midwifery and our accountability and responsibilities. We also learned how to read and analyse research and incorporate it into our working lives.
After qualifying, I applied to about ten hospitals around the country, got offered three jobs, and took one.
I work in the birth centre at the moment, so my main tasks surround labour and birth. I undertake full assessments of maternal and foetal wellbeing, assess the stages of labour, and offer emotional support, choices and guidance to women. I help them to cope with their labour, assist at the birth and offer help to establish breastfeeding.
Sometimes I ask for input from other professionals and work closely with obstetricians when complications arise. I accompany women to theatre for operative and instrumental deliveries if necessary. I sometimes have to resuscitate babies and respond to emergencies. I also do some high dependency care for women who are very ill in addition to being pregnant or giving birth.
I love caring for the women and their families throughout pregnancy and birth. It's very rewarding knowing that you've helped someone to achieve the birth they wanted or breastfeed their baby successfully. I also enjoy supporting women when things go wrong and contributing to having a healthy mum and baby despite complications. It still amazes me, even though I know the 'science' behind it - I get to watch women bring new life into this world!
For now, I'm content to carry on being a midwife in clinical practice. There are still things I need to 'perfect', such as suturing and mentoring students, and I want to gain a few years of experience before I think about moving on. At some stage, I would like to combine teaching or research within my clinical role.
I think the hardest part of the job is caring for women who are experiencing a pregnancy loss, and their families. Caring for a woman whose baby has died is very challenging and emotionally difficult. Babies also sometimes die during labour or in the days and weeks after birth, and we continue to care for women through these difficult times.
There is also a lot of paperwork to do, and due to staff shortages, we often work full shifts without breaks, stay late, and care for several women at the same time. It's stressful and exhausting at times, but overall the good outweighs the bad.
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