As I recently watched lots of eager new midwifery students find their way through the first term of their midwifery courses, I found myself reflecting on why we all chose to be midwives in the first place. Not everybody can be a midwife of course, and we are all very lucky to have such wonderful training available here in the United Kingdom…But midwifery is not always an easy professional path to take.
It is wonderful to see so many eager new student midwives around, they are indeed precious diamonds who must be nurtured as the world tries to recruit and retain a high quality midwifery workforce in the face of global shortages..
The bravery that is required to be an NHS midwife cannot be exaggerated.
Why did you want to become a midwife?
(Comments welcome below!)
What is it like being a midwife? – ‘The Secret Community for Midwives in the Making’ is full of aspiring midwives wanting to join the profession. Some of whom are really struggling to. I applaud you all for your enthusiasm and efforts, and I wish you all the very best in your endeavors…. However, it is not always a bed of roses.
So you want to become a midwife?...Midwives all over the world experience work-related psychological distress. Causes of psychological distress can include hostile behaviour towards staff, either from other staff or patients, workplace bullying, toxic organisational cultures, medical errors, traumatic ‘never events’, critical incidents, occupational stress, workplace suspension, whistleblowing, investigations via professional regulatory bodies and employers, and/or pre-existing mental health conditions.
The consequences of psychological distress in midwifery populations can result in death by suicide, death anxiety, depression, burnout, depersonalisation, compassion fatigue, shame, guilt, substance abuse disorders, and symptomatic displays of self-destructive and unethical behaviour. This situation is highly significant as it is incompatible with safe, high quality maternity care.
This situation is further reflected in the following academic paper -> ‘Midwives Overboard!’ Inside their hearts are breaking, their makeup may be flaking but their smile still stays on. This latest output was kindly co-authored by Wendy Clyne, Andrew Turner, Emily A. Fulton, and Clare Gerada.
So as our new student midwives may well be facing this reality soon, why do they still want to sign up?
Hint -> It is certainly not for the cash!
“If nobody comes from the future to stop you, how bad can the decision really be?”
Midwives do not enter the midwifery profession to fail, overwhelmingly they pursue midwifery because they want to achieve, contribute and be of value to the maternity services (Spitz, Sermeus and Thomson 2013). If we can remember this, then we can be kinder to ourselves and each other as our maternity services become ever more challenging.
Why did you become a midwife?
I became a midwife because I have always been fascinated by pregnancy, birth and human biology. Think about it.. its amazing! When my brother was born (I was 4 years old), I read my mums pregnancy books from cover to cover..the midwifery profession was then the only profession in which I have ever really felt at home. I wanted to make the experience for everyone.. magical.
As I am now an academic midwife, doing less and less clinical work, I find myself wanting to contribute to the profession in a variety of new ways. I am now a part of the midwifery profession because I want to improve the psychological well being of midwives in a quest for safer and higher quality maternity services. This does not mean that my original reasons for joining the midwifery profession have changed or disappeared. However, it does mean that I now realise that both excellence in maternity care and joyful midwifery practice cannot happen unless the psychological well being of midwives is adequately supported. I believe that I am now a part of the midwifery profession so that I can help to create psychologically safe professional journeys for all midwives.
What is the best thing about being a midwife?
For me, the best thing about being a midwife is that every day I have a new opportunity to do something meaningful, make a real difference to people’s lives and make a positive change in the world…
(however big or small)!
Midwives enter the profession to shine and deliver great things. Lets not let their professional ‘sparkle’ fade out.
Other research (2007) reports that ‘within 2 years in practice the newly qualified nurses could be categorised as sustained idealists, compromised idealists, or crushed idealists. The majority experienced frustration and some level of ‘burnout’ as a consequence of their ideals and values being thwarted. This led to disillusionment, ‘job-hopping’ and, in some cases, a decision to leave the profession.’ – Let’s all ensure that the same does not happen within our midwifery profession.
Keep the midwifery profession’s spark alive!!!
- Let’s be kind to ourselves and our colleagues.
- Let’s remember why we joined the midwifery profession
- Let’s remember that nobody joins the midwifery profession to fail
- As failure remains unintentional, remember that punishment and blame serve no real purpose.
- Let’s nurture new talent
- Express gratitude whenever possible
- Take every opportunity to learn, mentor, share knowledge and lead with courage.
Join the midwifery profession because it is fabulous…. (The midwife diaries can help you with your application)… Then look after yourself because it can be a challenging ride. Stay because you want to, and then care because your fellow midwives need caring for. When we are all cared for, we can work effectively in partnership with women and each other to achieve excellence within the maternity services..
..(excellence for midwives as well as for mothers and babies!)..
Until next time, be kind to yourselves, and each other 💛💙💜💚
Maben, Jill, Sue Latter, and Jill Macleod Clark. “The sustainability of ideals, values and the nursing mandate: evidence from a longitudinal qualitative study.” Nursing Inquiry 14.2 (2007): 99-113.
Spitz, Bernard, Walter Sermeus, and Ann M. Thomson. “Student midwives’ views on maternity care just before their graduation.” Journal of advanced nursing 69.3 (2013): 600-609.