The moment I realised... I wanted to be a midwife

I remember being interested in midwifery from a really young age, but I think I began my interest in it quite naively. I thought midwifery was all about cuddling babies. I didn’t really know what else the role encompassed.


 

But as I got more interested in midwifery, I did research, I did work experience. I came to open days and I talked to student midwives about the role – what the role really was and I realised it had so much more to it.

Midwife itself means 'with women' and I soon learnt that midwives play a massive role in the antenatal intrapartum and postnatal periods, as well as supporting women preconceptionally in some areas.

I used this passion to push me through all my GSCEs and my A levels and when I had to do an access course, that kept me going through.

Fast forward time and I was on a night shift on a labour ward. I had just facilitated a particularly memorable delivery with a lovely couple and they brought their younger son in to visit the new baby. 

They introduced me as the midwife who brought their little baby into the world, to their son, and said, ‘this is the midwife, this is Abbie.’

Nobody had ever actually called me a midwife at that point and even though I was still a student very rarely did people refer to you as the student, they say that you are the midwife. I felt I played a massive role in that family’s life and I really enjoyed spending time with them afterwards.

On another occasion I was caring for a couple following the news that their baby had died. This involved a lot of bereavement care, something which I hadn’t done before and I hadn’t had a lot of experience in learning during placement. It’s not something we learn about a lot at University and I don’t think it’s something you can learn too much about.

The couple had found out shortly after their 20 week scan and this wasn’t their first baby loss. I sat with them, I cried with them, and when the baby was born I helped create memories so they could remember their baby. I provided a memory box, hand and footprints, as well as photos.

It was a really challenging few shifts, but it was definitely very memorable for me and I feel like I actually made a difference in that family’s life.

A few weeks later, quite a few weeks later, I received a letter in the hospital thanking me for how I helped them. It made me realise you really do have a long-term impact on a family whether you are a midwife or a student, they just remember you as being someone who was there and held their hand and listened to them.

 

The best parts of being a midwife

Within my role as a midwife, I work in a continuity of carer model, whereby I am in a team of eight midwives, and we provide care to women and birthing people across the antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal period. 

This means that I am not now fixed to one area or ward, but rather do a combination across the week between community midwifery, labour ward and the antenatal/postnatal ward. 

I really enjoy working in this way, as I get to see the women and their families across the continuum, and sometimes I meet them antenatally, and then care for them in labour and then provide elements of their postnatal care. 


I have been very lucky to see a few women antenatally, facilitate the birth of the baby and provide all their postnatal care and discharge them from midwifery care. It is a very rewarding role, and I feel part of the team which is a fantastic feeling.


Where I see myself in a few years’ time

I see myself continuing in this role and potentially looking at further development into a champion role within labour ward to develop my skillset further in this area in a non-rotational role.

By this point I will have completed my MSc in Advanced Professional Practice which I recently started at the University. However, I really want to get a grounding across all elements of midwifery care at present, developing my ‘with women’ skills and feeling confident and competent in my role.

 

What I love about the profession

I chose to become a midwife as I have a passion for pregnancy and birth, and supporting those on that journey. 

I have always found physiology fascinating and the journey the body undergoes to accommodate a pregnancy is so interesting and really makes you think about how incredible the human body is. 

I also love that pregnancy is a fantastic opportunity to provide a woman or birthing person with information regarding public health and important health issues such as smoking cessation, healthy eating, pelvic floor health and mental health awareness. 

There is a true approach of holistic care in midwifery, as we do not just see the patient as someone having a baby, but rather a woman or person who is physiologically carrying a growing baby, but also undergoing emotional and mental changes to adjust to becoming a parent.

There are also so many opportunities within midwifery, despite many people thinking its restricted to delivering babies. However, as a midwife you can go into research, leadership positions, managerial positions and educational roles as well as specialist midwifery roles such as diabetes, bereavement, fetal medicine, public health as well as caseloading and homebirth care and many more!

I feel excited to go to work and have a strong philosophy of wanting to support and make a difference in someone’s journey.

Nursing and Midwifery
Babysim - Pre-Registration midwifery
Midwifery
 

The best things on my course

The BSc (Hons) Pre-Registration Midwifery course at Plymouth covered all the elements required to become and qualify as a registered midwife. Academically, I developed my writing skills from level 4 to level 6, and it prepared me well now I am undertaking my masters.

There were so many elements of the course that were fun, and placement formed a large element of this due to the range of experiences I had. 

However, I really enjoyed chairing the midwifery society for my final two years, as well as being in the PALs scheme. 

An important element of doing a healthcare course is finding your ‘tribe’ and this can really make the degree not only more fun, but also having those around you who understand your troubles really helps! 

I loved our clinical skills day, as we could ask all the ‘silly’ questions that in placement we’d worry about and had the opportunity to be really hands on and sometimes have a laugh whilst we’re there!

Why I chose Plymouth

I really enjoyed that the course at Plymouth was 55% placement and 45% theory, as I am a very hands-on and practical person, and learn best on the job. 

Additionally, having a module dedicated to supervision and assessment of students has been fantastic, as although I am not allocated a student, I have supervised students when they have had hours to make-up and have been required to write comments in their ongoing achievement record. Having this module made teaching others, and not just student midwives, but also maternity support workers, a lot easier as I understood the theory around it. 

Additionally, undertaking the theoretical aspect of the Newborn Infant Physical Examination as a final year meant that I was able to utilise this advanced skill and have almost been signed off in the practical element. This skill enhances the continuity of care I can provide women and families as well as my autonomy as a midwife.

 

The benefits of placements

I had placements of around 24–25 weeks a year that were spread into blocks across each academic year. This was over half of my time and I gained a lot of learning during this time. 

I spent time on labour ward, the antenatal and postnatal wards as well as in the community midwifery setting. Across these settings I worked towards the aims within my ongoing achievement record, as well as the numbers required by the European Union. I also had additional non-maternity placements such as the gynaecological ward, neonatal intensive care unit and intensive care unit. 

These areas gave me an understanding of skills related to midwifery in a non-maternity setting, and also the potential ongoing care women and birthing people require postnatally.

My proudest achievements

One of my proudest achievements was being nominated for the Student Midwife of the Year award by the Royal College of Midwives and being shortlisted to the final five. I had to go to London for an interview and discuss what I had done as a student and my plans for the future. This was a really big thing for me, as a girl from a small Cornish village, and was a great way to celebrate the end of my midwifery degree. 

However, my proudest moment was seeing all the students I trained alongside in their blue midwifery uniforms and 'midwife' badges! We all worked so hard to get here, and really had a big hurdle at the end with COVID, but we made it!

 

Could midwifery be for you?

If you are passionate about supporting women and birthing people through their journey of parenthood, including care and advice whilst they’re pregnant and care afterwards. As well as advocating for them and providing holistic care based around their situation and circumstance – then do it! 

Being a midwife is also about promoting physiology and the ‘art and science’ of midwifery through birth and providing psychological support. If your interest lies more in babies, and looking after babies – I’m afraid midwifery isn’t for you. 

If you’re unsure, try and gain some work experience or volunteering experience within the maternity department, or get talking to a student midwife and the lecturers at an open day about where your interests lie. 

We need lots more midwives, and even if you have the slightest interest – research and find out more! 

Studying at Plymouth

The degree at Plymouth is also just that, a degree – so requires a lot of commitment academically. However, I had fantastic support through the midwifery team as well as the learning and development support team to succeed. 

And when you’re studying something you love – it doesn’t really feel like work! 

The library was a fantastic space to study, with lots of different seating areas and nooks to study.

I lived in a shared student house during the first two years of my training near the Plymouth campus. I loved that the campus was well integrated with the city centre and therefore everything was nearby including transport and the shops, as well as being within walking distance of the Hoe where you could look out to sea to relax.

Do you want to help women have the best pregnancy and birth possible? Make a long-term impact on a family?

This course equips you with the skills, knowledge and professional insight needed to become a registered midwife. Whether it’s helping clients before labour, or giving support to new mothers, you’ll learn through doing – building your confidence as you go. You’ll also discover the social and cultural influences that shape maternity care today, so you graduate ready to excel as a fully-rounded healthcare professional.

Study BSc (Hons) Pre-Registration Midwifery