Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Thrown in the deep end!

My first day on placement felt a lot like being thrown in the deep end of a pool with your arms tied behind your back. I was not ready for it. I was on antenatal clinic and it was a very busy day. The midwife I was with had been in a meeting that morning, and we were running late from the get-go. The women we saw were a far-cry from the university mantra of "In first year, you will see normal care of a normal, healthy pregnant woman." I felt like every woman who walked in the door had a complicated back-story and medical history that I had to very quickly come up to speed on as I sat quietly observing the midwife.

I had been signed off on the clinical skills of vital signs, including blood pressure, urinalysis, palpation (feeling the baby) and auscultation (listening to the baby's heartbeat) already in the lab at uni, yet there was no opportunity for me to practice that day. I listened with a pinnards stethoscope placed by the midwife twice, and I think that's it. There was a reason though - many of the women had either another student doing continuity of care with them, or a complication that prevented me from being able to practice on them. I tried my best to remind myself, this is their experience, not mine!

I was  there to learn and learn I did! Each woman had left a piece of them with me in the room that day - a traumatic past birth, a struggle to quit smoking, a story of postnatal depression. By the end of the day exhaustion washed over me - mental and emotional, from a very long day learning how to be a midwife.

My second day in antenatal clinic, I arrived feeling nervous, begging the universe not to give me another busy day where I would not be able to practice my skills. The universe provided. It was a day of booking in appointments. Much calmer than the first day and despite my initial nerves, the midwife (a different one this time) soon made me feel at ease. I took blood pressures, palpated pregnant bellies, listened to the miraculous canter of the fetal heart with the doppler. By the end of the day, I was on our database, running a booking in appointment on my own, providing women with antenatal education and feeling totally in my element. My arms had come unbound, and with deep, sure strokes, I had learned to swim!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Life "En Caul"

Babies born with their membranes in tact are referred to as being "en caul". It is a rare occurrence, made even more rare by the rates of intervention we see in hospitals these days, where many women have their membranes artifically ruptured to hasten their labour. A student friend of me was lucky enough to see one at a birth centre a couple of weeks ago. I hope I get to see it for myself one day.

There used to be superstitions that a baby born en caul could never drown, or would live a lucky life. Many sailors paid great amounts of money for the dried membranes of babies born en caul to wear as amulets out at sea, hoping that it would protect them from drowning. I thought it would be a clever title for a blog that is about both life in the womb, and life "on call" as a student midwife. To see some beautiful images of a baby born en caul into water, click here. I am sure you will be blown away!