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How will I survive the shift work as a Midwife?

The moment when you go to work when everyone is settling down to an evening at home on the settee; the get-togethers you can’t attend as ‘you’re working that day’; or the weekend get-away you can’t go to because you need notice to book the time off…
Keeping very different hours

Shift work does have its downsides and could be the reason why you may be giving second thoughts to being a midwife. In reality shift work gives you the flexibility to make dentist and doctor’s appointments that every else struggles to attend, the gym is quieter and you can whip round the supermarket at super-speed. You will get very used at sleeping anytime, anywhere. Going on a long haul flight; no problem, you’ll spring right back from jetlag much quicker than everyone else because you’re used to having broken nights and days. All because babies come 24/7 (and I hate to say it, mainly at night ZZZZzzzzzzzz.)

The thought worse than reality

Although it initially took a while to get used to working shifts, I now realise that with any shift ‘the thought’ of being awake through the night or being at work for 14 hours is worse than being there.

I have liked the flexibility to see friends and family throughout the week rather than squeezing socialising into a weekend. There is always good camaraderie on a shift, everyone pulling together particularly at night when of course we all would much prefer to be in bed, but our love for the job sees us caring for all the expectant mums and welcoming new additions into the world.

It may take a bit of getting used to if you haven’t done it before, but soon you could never imagine working Monday-Friday 9-5!

Tips for surviving shift work

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Make sure you have enough sleep between shifts
  • Eat healthy, slow energy releasing snacks (on night shifts sometimes eating is the only thing keeping you awake)
  • Keep yourself busy. If the shift is quieter than normal (if you are lucky!) try and sort, clean, email, anything to help that time go faster
  • Plan your days off; having things to look forward to will help you have a sense of good work/life balance
  • Explain to friends and family that you need plenty of notice to book time off (can be as much as 3 months)- it’s no fun when you feel like you are missing out all the time
  • You can have a number of requests on your rota, so make sure you use your request to have the weekends off you want or shift you prefer to work
  • Do you have children under 6 years old? If so, you can have rules as to when you can and can’t work which can help the mum/midwife juggling act
  • Are you thinking about becoming a midwife? We are here to help you from that first thought to getting your dream job. Any questions then please contact us!

Article written by Emily Seddon

Emily is a midwife with many years of experience. She is passionate about supporting midwives of the future. As a clinical mentor, student link and being on university interview panels, she knows what it takes to get a place!

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