One never forgets their first birth experience. For most women, it coincides with welcoming a first born into their family. For a midwifery student however, it’s something quite different.
For me, it wasn’t quite the ‘call the midwife’ scene I had in mind. Already disappointed by the lack of kind nuns and daunted by the expectation of “catching” forty babies, I was assigned delivery suite as my first placement. Perfect. Day one we were informed there was a woman close to giving birth and a student was required to go in to assist. Not surprisingly, I drew the short straw. At this point you may wonder if I voluntarily enrolled in Midwifery and yes I had, but that didn’t make it any less terrifying.
As I looked on from behind a baby blanket, I couldn’t help but feel that birth looked like a really impossible task. Trust me, there aren’t enough textbook photos or youtube clips to quite prepare you for the live show.
Now hindsight and a little more experience has since taught me, that birth is actually far less about me and much more about the newly formed family. But on that day, as I came face to face with my first delivery, I was convinced that it was me who would be left most traumatised by the whole ordeal. Thankfully my moment of panic quickly passed as before me a beautiful baby was born and placed into the arms of his loving parents. They cried. I cried. The baby boy cried. Once we had all pulled ourselves together, I have the privilege of taking their first family photo. The look of pure relief and joy on their faces is one I will never forget.
From that day, my student year really took off catapulting me into what seemed like 12 months of miraculously impossible tasks. While I won’t ever forget the long shifts, the 3am call ins, the breastfeeding problems, the last minute assignments and the time I fell into the birthing pool (yes, post birth), I also won’t forget the year of life changing memories. I cried A LOT- both happy and sad tears that formed important parts of that very steep learning curve every student midwife must tackle.
Like any student, I quickly discovered there’s no substitute for the confidence that comes only with time, practise and continual learning. Though I have gone on to focus on women’s health, I know midwifery opened many doors, as well as my eyes, to a wonderful area of health. And for those students who are looking in vain for the light at the end of the tunnel, remember that your student year will eventually come to an end, but the skills you collect will affect generations to come.