Becoming a Midwife…..What you need to know.

I get private messages every week on Instagram asking about midwifery and where I trained etc. I decided to write this post about where I trained, what the course involves, what are the pros and cons and what attributes you need to become a midwife.

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So first off, I want to highlight that I hadn’t a Bull’s notion what I wanted to be when I finished school. The television show ‘One Born Every Minute’ had become quite popular around the time that I was studying for my Leaving Cert. I found that I was glued to it, and would make sure I got to catch an episode of it every week. I was totally amazed at birth, and watching what women’s bodies are capable of in pregnancy, labour and birth. I found it empowering to see Midwives’ support women and their partners during such a vulnerable and special event in their lives. It was my mother that suggested I stick Midwifery down on my CAO form as a result of this new found interest, as she obviously saw that I was hooked on the TV show. I found the role of a Midwife fascinating, and I wanted to see if I could give it a shot to become one myself.

So long story short, I studied my bum off, and along came the CAO offers in 2010 and I thankfully got a place to study Midwifery in Trinity College Dublin (TCD).

It is a four year degree, and you to the theory part in TCD, and the placements and training in either The Rotunda or The Coombe. I would be lying if I said the course was brilliant, as there were elements I really really struggled with. It isn’t a course to go into half heartedly! You need to be 100% committed to what is required. I lost friendships throughout the four years, as people get fed up of how much time is dedicated to the course. From the first couple of weeks into the course, you’re on placements, working supernummary for long ass shifts (07:30am-20:30pm!) and like most people, you’re working a second part time job on your days off to make some money. On top of this, you’re working on assignments and also trying to stay on top of relationships as well (I honestly don’t know how Ben put up with me, there would be weeks where I saw him for literally an hour and that would be it!). Unlike other college courses where you can skip lectures here and there, you cannot for this one! Your attendance is monitored closely and you really cannot fob off missing any lectures! It was very hard to watch my pals head off on college nights out, when I would be at home in bed at 10pm, as I was up for a 13 hour shift the next day. Another thing to note is that you don’t benefit from time off during midterm breaks as you are scheduled for placements during them.

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All of this sounds very negative, but it’s important to be aware of these points as many people drop out for reasons such as not being able to commit to the time required to complete the course, or the financial burden that working for free for the first three years brings!

During the training you work in all areas of Maternity Care and also complete specialist placements in general hospitals on Medical/Surgical wards, and also in Mental Health. I found the placements in the general hospital the most difficult to complete as they took such an emotional toll on me, as everybody I was dealing with was sick  (which thankfully is rare in maternity).

This is totally ‘off topic’, but the fabulous Terrie McEvoy was working on a ward that shared a changing room with the one that I was placed on in St James’ Hospital. All I can remember was how friendly she was when we had stupid questions to ask (as we weren’t familiar with some of the terminology used). And yes, she is that beautiful with feck all make up on at 7am!!

Midwifery training challenges you intellectually, emotionally and physically. You will either sink or swim. I often felt that I was sinking! But you grow thick skin and learn to trust your instincts as time goes on.

Its a job that requires a heck of a lot of empathy, kindness and friendly chat. Sadly not all outcomes are positive and you being a lot of that at home with you unfortunately. As time goes on you learn different coping mechanisms and find comfort in talking with colleagues to debrief .

It’s a career that you need to have somewhat a gift of the gab. Good communication are paramount as you need you can end up looking after one woman for 12 hours in labour, and the last thing you want is big long awkward silences! I don’t shut up so this was never a problem for me!

It is such a rewarding career. There is nothing like the buzz you get from assisting a woman in labour to deliver a healthy baby, or to help her feed her baby for the first time, or show a Dad how to bath his newborn etc. It is a career that is life long learning, you’re constantly updating your skills and changing practices based on the latest evidence so it never gets boring.

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It is such an honour to witness birth! I still get choked up when I see parents meet their baby for the first time.

The working environment is stressful due to staff shortages, lack of resources and over crowding. You need to be a team player and have good communication skills. The pay isn’t great for amount of responsibility you have, so it is little wonder we are losing so many Irish nurses and midwives to emigration once they qualify. That being said, it is such a bonus to know you can travel the world with this job, and never be out of work as babies are always being born!

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I am going to wrap this post up here, as I could be writing for hours about being a Midwife. I love my job, although I wont lie, it is tough! When I get the days that I come home from working my sixth nightshift out of seven and I feel like utter SHIT, I still cannot imagine myself working at anything else.

If anyone has any further questions, please DM me. I hope I answered a few queries in this! 🙂

Jessica x.

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