“Shift Starts Thursday @ 8PM”
I am getting ready to leave home to go to work on a night shift. The drive to work often involves feelings of apprehension but excitement of what the shift might bring.
Start with a handover
We always start the shift with a handover of care from the current staff. We find out what has happened during the day, if there is anyone who is at home in early labour or any planned homebirths. We make sure that we know of anyone that might be coming in overnight or any women that might call for assistance with feeding or on-going issues.
I work closely with maternity support workers (MSW), so at night it will just be me and a MSW working together, although another midwife will join us once we are looking after a woman in labour.
Finding ways to help
As night shifts are generally quieter than the day shifts, we check all emergency equipment and restock. We introduce ourselves to the mums and babies on the ward, although most mums will be trying to get as much sleep as possible, babies do like to feed a lot so we help with breastfeeding, latching issues and confidence building before going home.
First phone call
We may have time for a cup of tea when the phone starts to ring. Tonight, it is Sophie, she is expecting her first baby, her contractions have started and she is wondering what she should be doing. We talk about the early stages of labour and advise her to stay at home as long as possible. She has some paracetamol and is just about to have a bath to see if she can feel more comfortable. She will call back when her contractions become closer together.
A later stage of labour
Shortly afterwards Louise calls us to say that she is in strong labour and as she is expecting her 4th baby, she is coming straight into the birth centre and asks if we can start running the birthing pool.
Louise arrives at 21.25 and just manages to get into the pool before her 8lb 10oz baby girl arrives at 21.50. This is her first baby girl and she is overjoyed. We spend time helping her breastfeeding, giving her some tea and toast and helping her shower. We check her baby over, counting fingers and toes and giving her and her partner time to get to know their new baby girl.
Time to come in
At 23.00 Sophie calls back to say that her bath helped but now the contractions are coming every few minutes and her waters also break while she is talking to me on the phone. We invite her in and prepare the birth room for her arrival.
Sophie’s cervix is 5 centimetres dilated when she arrives and she is coping really well with her TENS machine on. She walks around the birth room and spends time sitting on the birthing ball and kneeling on the mat. We have time to talk about how her and her partner met, hear all about her pregnancy and get to know each other. We talk about her plans for her birth and she tells me that she is expecting a little boy.
Sophie’s labour progresses really well and at 5.04 we welcome baby George into the world, with a big mop of black hair and long fingers. We joke that he might be a piano player one day. He weighs 7lb 8oz and it was so lovely to be there to meet their little boy.
Shift Finishes Friday @ 8AM
As the sun starts to rise we are aware that the shift is coming to the end. Two happy families and two beautiful babies welcomed into the world, there is nothing more rewarding then being the first person to see a new baby making an appearance. I get home at 9am and fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow its been another rewarding, emotional and special shift as a midwife.