By Claire Bigg
The house is quiet, the clothes are all laid out ready for when the children wake up. Daddy’s in charge today and mummy’s off to work. There is no typical day at work for me, which is probably why I like it. There’s no 9-5, no Friday feeling and sadly not many Christmas days off. But the bonus is that I help women and families through one of the most challenging and exciting times of their life. Birthing their baby. The joy on their faces when they hear that first cry, reminds me and keeps me going, even through the tougher shifts.
The roads are empty as it’s not long after 6am, often catching a beautiful time of day as I sip my coffee and drive into work. On arrival I am in anticipation of the workload for the day. The night staff are pleased to see the fresh faced staff coming to take over the care of the women who will be or may have already birthed their babies.
Once we have had handover the work load is distributed. There is no normal so it could be incredibly busy, steady or dare we say it, quiet! Whatever it is we never take it for granted as it doesn’t stay that way for long. The care is handed from one midwife to the other, and essential equipment is checked to ensure high levels of safety and care can be maintained. Two women are in labour, three have birthed their babies, the theatre is on standby for any emergency cases and there is a expectant mum on the phone.
The staff work hard, caring and supporting the families whatever their varying needs, working in a multidisciplinary team with the obstetric and anaesthetic doctors on the consultant led obstetric unit. The birth rate is increasing and sometimes it’s challenging especially as medicine is advancing and there are a lot more complexities in midwifery. However, giving a woman 1:2:1 support is very rewarding. This would be from arriving in the delivery room, through the labour, the birth and the immediate post natal period. Some woman will go home a few hours after birthing their baby, some will transfer to the post natal ward for further care and support. Obviously during the time of caring for the woman and her family shift changes can occur which means the introduction of another midwife. We also need to fuel ourselves in order to provide the best we can, so try to grab a quick coffee, and take a meal / rest break when an optimal time arises. It’s a common joke that midwives have to have good bladders!!
It’s nearing the end of the shift, the day seems to have flown by. I think of my own little ones at home, now being tucked up in bed, as I creep in I will kiss them all goodnight and be woken full of excitement that mummy’s home the following morning. As I drive home I think about the families I have supported throughout the day, feeling privileged to have helped them in such a precious time. My legs ache and I’m ready for my bed. 12 and a half hours of busy midwifery duties, all mums and babies safe, staff working as part of a fantastic team, and me, home to my family.
Claire teaches the Essential Preparation for Birth workshops for us, alongside being a mum to her young kids and a Midwife at Colchester.