This time last year, I had my place confirmed on the course, I had sorted out my accommodation and I was desperate to start getting together the things I would need for when it all started. I think there was a part of me that didn’t quite believe I would be starting my midwifery training in just a few months, and I felt like I needed to start buying things to make it all feel real – but what to buy?!
I spent a lot of time searching google, and on the various soon-to-be-student-midwife Facebook chats, but I couldn’t find a “definitive” list of what I would need – and, I didn’t know enough of what to expect from the course to be able to make one up. Now, one year into the course, I’m in a much better position to put together a list for those of you who are out there wondering what you need and what you don’t, just like I was this time last year.
I’ve split it up into sections – ‘Bags’, ‘Equipment’, ‘Shoes’, ‘Books’ & ‘For Your Desk’ for ease of reading. I’ve also found some examples of the things I’m suggesting online for you to have a look at – links are all below. 🙂
I also now have the Student Midwife Shop with a load of extra bits and bobs, birth records, tote bags and other gorgeous extras, as well as the absolute “musts”.
- Day Bag – You will need a good quality bag for uni days and placement days – sturdy enough to hold books/laptop etc. I’ve got a great waterproof backpack from Cath Kidston – it even has a special laptop pocket so my laptop doesn’t get scratched or bumped, and as it is waterproof it means it doesn’t matter if I get caught in the rain on the way home from a shift.
- Lunchbox/bag – I try to take lunch in to uni when I can to save the pennies (plus, it makes me eat healthier!) so this has been a lifesaver for me – it’s also perfect for taking food and snacks in for placement shifts. I’ve got a great little bag from Lakeland which is big enough for a tupperware, plus a few extra bits and bobs too!
- Water bottle – Long lectures or long shifts, either way, you need to keep drinking – and it’ll save you the pennies of constantly buying bottles if you’ve got a nice colourful one to carry around with you!
- Fob Watch – Don’t go for anything too snazzy but a proper fob watch with a second-hand is an absolute MUST! Try to make sure that it doesn’t have any sticky-outy bits – you don’t want to risk scratching a newborn baby that you’re having a cuddle with now do ya?! The simple silicon ones are also very easy to clean too!
- Stethoscope – This is a tricky one. I would say that you don’t really need your own for first year – you can use your mentor’s one in community and there are generally plenty around on the wards to use on shift. However, if you do have your own, it is much more comfortable (the hospital ones have earpieces that are just the most solid, uncomfortable things in the world!) and obviously it also means you are the only one to use it, which is much cleaner and reduces your own risk of ear infection etc.
My parents bought mine for me as a “Congratulations on getting your place” present and I love it. I got the Littmann Classic III as it is both a normal stethoscope and a paediatric stethoscope in one, which is perfect if you are going to be doing things like NIPE baby checks etc! You can even get it engraved with your name, or a few emojis, and pick your colour too!
This is the one that I have – in Raspberry Pink!
- Gestation Wheel– Again, I would say you don’t really need to buy one of these but they are very useful. I was given one as a gift from one of my first mentors on Community, but you can also get them free when you join the RCM as a student etc – don’t bother buying one, but very useful to keep in your bag if there is one going free!
- Hair Ties – If you’re anything like me, you all already have a hair tie on your wrist most of the time (I have one on my wrist as I write this!) but even so, it’s worth investing in a big pile of them just to keep yourself prepared. Keep them in the pocket of your uni/placement bag and you will never find yourself in a position where you are about to catch a baby with your hair tied up with the wrist-part of a glove (been there, done that!)
- Model Pelvis – I don’t have one of these yet, but I think that is down to how I learn – I’m a visual learner, but very much in the 2D sense. One of my colleagues on my course, Sara, suggested this one, because she has a model pelvis and it has really helped her when learning the names of the parts of the pelvis and things like dimensions etc. What I’d suggest is, start the course, use the ones in uni and see if they help – then if they do, you can find one online, and if not, save yourself the pennies! 🙂
- Knitted Boob – This is another one that I would say isn’t a compulsory purchase for starting the course, but well worth getting hold of at some point. In my uni we have a practical exam at the end of first year which revolves almost entirely around breastfeeding, and we have to demonstrate on a knitted boob – so I’m in the process of trying to find a good one online so I can practice before the exam comes up (some parts of this course are really weird! Just gonna sit in the corner and practise with my knitted boob…..! Haha!)
- Fetal Skull – As with the pelvis, I don’t have one of these yet, but this one I think I will probably get my hands on soon. The fetal skull models in uni I have found very helpful, but the ones online are so expensive! I reckon what I’m gonna do is when we go on study leave, I’ll buy a doll from a charity shop and then draw the suture lines etc onto it’s head. Again, see how you get on, you might not need one!
- Placement Shoes – This is one of the big ones. You WILL need these. No way around it. Different Unis have different uniform policies but as a rule you need Black, closed-toe, covered-foot, wipe-clean shoes (not trainers). The ‘go-to’ seems to be the Clarks Unloops (which is what I have)
They are quite possibly the least attractive shoes in the world, but after 12 hours on shift, you won’t care what you look like, you will care that it still feels like you are walking on a cloud! They aren’t cheap to buy, but they pay for themselves ten-fold, trust me!
- Myles or Mayes – You will need one or the other of these. They are kinda like the Midwifery Bible. They have pretty much the exact same content (everything you need to know to be a midwife, basically!), but displayed in slightly different ways. My advice would be to hold off buying one until you start the course, then borrow each one from the library at uni and see which you get on best with. I have the Myles, because it is slightly more visual, but see what appeals best to you!
- Anatomy & Physiology Textbook – There are loads of these out there, so find one that works for you. I have the Coad & Dunstable “Anatomy & Physiology for Midwives” which has been really helpful for me! I bought this before I started and it really helped ease me into the course having had a good look at it before starting!
- Balliere’s Midwives Dictionary – This has literally any term you will hear in midwifery in, and its in a really pocket sized book – I keep this in my uni/placement bag for those moments when someone says something to you and you just think “WHAAAT did you just say!??” – its right there to clear up the confusion!
- Skills for Midwifery Practise – This has been brilliant for me this year. Anything you learn skills-wise is in here and is literally gone through step-by-step. I’d really recommend this one – plus, it makes quite exciting reading before you start the course too, to think that you will be doing these things soon! Eek!
- An Introduction to Research for Midwives – All degree courses will have a research module on the course, ours was this year, and I can safely say I wouldn’t have got through it without this book! It makes it all seem a little simpler – absolute lifesaver!
For Your Desk
- Black Pens – You will need more of these than you can get your hands on. I bought 200 in bulk at costco before I started the course, one year and only 18 weeks of placement later, I have about 40 left. They just DISAPPEAR as soon as you step foot in the hospital! Buy lots, take a handful to each shift and you’ll still find you have none left by the time you clock off! Some hospitals use Red pens for some parts of their documentation, but the majority of paperwork and everything still has to be black – in my trust, EVERYTHING is black.
- Lined Paper – For making notes in uni. These could be just big pads, or in hardback wire-bound notebooks. (Friends of mine have found these particularly useful for making notes for each module in different books – kinda wish I’d done that now it’s coming up to revision time!)
- Planner – Get yourself a nice filofax or a really good planner – you will need it. Placement weeks you need to keep track of what days you are working and the times of your shifts. Uni weeks, its what room you are in, what the lecture is, which lecturer etc – I’ve got a great A5 filofax from paper chase with week-to-view inserts – perfect.
For those of you who are after something specific, The Happy Planner Company do planners specifically aimed at Student Midwives which have birth records and VE charts and all sorts of wonderful bits and bobs in – I had one at the start, but needed a bit more space so hole punched all the bits I wanted and put them into my filofax with my normal inserts. (The also do filfoax inserts, but I prefer the slightly more spaced out layout of the normal filofax inserts)
- Laptop/Computer – You will need some form of computer or laptop. I have a MacBook Air that I take into uni with me most days and use in lectures to take notes. I wouldn’t say you need anything particularly high tech, but something that can open powerpoint presentations, can access the internet and that you can write essays on is VITAL.
- Printer – Likewise, you will need a printer. You could use the uni facilities but it works out really pricey – much better to get your hands on a nice compact home printer – it’ll make your life much easier. I actually reviewed one from HP last week which is “The World’s Smallest All-In-One Printer” and really good value too – have a read of my post (links to where you can buy it are all in the post too!)
- USB Stick/Hard-drive – Back everything up. Even if you still use floppy disks (or am I just showing my age by saying that?!) make sure you back everything up! A USB stick costs a few quid, but could save you days of re-doing an essay you lost because something crashed or an email didn’t send. It’s a complete no-brainer! 🙂
Featured Image by Leslie Reagan Bodin
To read last week’s Midwife Mondays post, click here