I can remember the first day in practice as if it was yesterday. I remember walking into labour ward and taking in the hospital smell. Walking up the corridor to the office and not knowing what to expect. I just hoped that my mentor would be nice to me, that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself and that midwifery was the right choice.
I met my mentor and felt immediately at ease. I was armed with a new pen, a fob watch, name badge, notepad and eagerness to learn. That first shift was very surreal, it was like I was dreaming. After wanting to be a midwife for so long, for working as a maternity support worker and reading endless journals, suddenly I was there, sitting in handover and waiting to see who we would be looking after.
The first year is mainly observational, but there is lots of opportunity to practice the skills that we were taught in university including how to palpate the abdomen, blood taking, checking blood pressures, pulse, temperature and basic documentation.
I must have looked like a ‘rabbit in the headlights’, the awe of childbirth, the special moment of being a part of a couples’ life and rapidly jotting everything I could down into my chosen notebook.
I was surprised with the amount of documentation that is required and how many observations need to be carried out. There is also a lot of documentation as a student, recording hospital numbers for proof of care within your portfolio and I would recommend that you start writing down these numbers from your first day. It was important to learn how to reflect, a skill that is necessary regardless of what happens on the shift.
That first day made me realise that midwifery was for me, the buzz of working in a busy environment, the unpredictability of what might happen next, how you will meet diverse women but all going through the same transition, to becoming a mother.
Tips for your first day:
- Take a bottle of water, with your name on it
- Take a lunch box with a variety of snacks (including a banana which is a midwife’s energy boosting food of choice)
- Make sure you know the uniform policy, including short nails with no nail varnish, hair tied back off neck, sensible closed toe shoes.
- Buy some shoes that are suitable for use in theatre (anti-static) some trusts will allow ‘professional crocs’ that have NO holes
- Black and red ball point pens
- A note pad
- A fob watch
- You might need your own padlock for a locker
- A midwife dictionary was helpful, as there are a lot of abbreviations