How have I started my third placement already?! It seems like only yesterday that I was nervously sitting in the car ahead of my first day on my first placement, and now I am week into my third?! Time really does fly!
This week I started my placement on the post-natal ward. As expected from conversations with other girls on my course who have already done their placement on the postnatal ward, it’s a busy one.
With daily postnatal checks on both the mum and the baby, and then additional checks and observations focussing on whatever reason they are staying on the ward – whether that is that the mother is post-caesarean section, the baby needs blood sugar monitoring, or whatever else, it goes on the list.
I had three shifts on the ward this week and it’s been a real eye opener.
I had done baby obs on the Birth Centre, but never enough to feel hugely confident – by the end of the first day, I had done so many set of baby observations I think I could do them in my sleep if I needed to!
Baby Blood Sugars
We have done the theory and practise of monitoring baby blood sugars in various skills sessions in uni, but I had never done it on a real baby. On my first day on the ward, my mentor showed me one, and then followed the “see one, do one” logic and I did all the others for the rest of the day – again, now, I really feel like I know what I’m doing with them.
I’ve also been getting to grips with taking out IV cannulas. A lot of the women have them if they have had a caesarean section, and once they have had a good sized wee (something else we monitor on the ward – just to add to the list!) and there are no other risk factors, we can take them out. Again, I had done this on a plastic arm in the skills lab, but never on a real person, and my mentor showed me one, and then I did the next. By my third shift, I was going and taking them out by myself whenever asked.
It’s not just the practical skills that get used on the postnatal ward – there is also a lot of emotional support. Most new mums need a bit of emotional support – it’s a new and sometimes scary experience having a new baby, and sometimes all they need is someone to tell them that they are doing a good job.
As a midwife, there is also a lot of sensitivity required in the unusual situations – This week, one of the ladies in my care had a very poorly baby up on NICU and another was a victim of domestic violence. It really emphasised to me the importance of what we do every day and the support we can give – It makes such a difference to these ladies to have someone who is sensitive to their individual needs, someone to tell them that they are doing really well despite any tricky circumstances, or someone they can proudly tell that their poorly baby can finally breathe on it’s own. It’s not always easy, but it’s the support that they need.
In one of my shifts this week, I also ended up on NICU with a couple while their baby had a heart scan after a murmur was detected. It was fascinating to see the consultant carry out the scan and show us the different parts of the heart on the screen, and tell us where the murmur was coming from. (The baby is absolutely fine now, in case anyone was wondering!)
All in all, it’s been a bit of an eye opener, and a really steep learning curve.
I wasn’t overly convinced when starting this week that I would enjoy this placement as much as I had the previous two – would it come out with the same job satisfaction at the end of the shift? But I have learnt that it is really investing in the individual women in your care that makes it so special. Yes, it’s busy, and you constantly have a list of a hundred things that need doing, but every day is different, the women are unique and fantastic, and there is definitely no shortage of baby cuddles and cuteness!
To read last week’s “Midwife Mondays” post, click here