Coping with Nervousness in Midwifery: [VIDEO] Part 1

I was contacted by a student midwife I will call ‘W’ (you know who you are! :) ). She emailed to ask if it’s normal to feel nervous before starting to train as a midwife. W – it’s totally normal to feel this way! However, it’s good to come up with a coping strategy that will set you up for your career.

As Midwives we are in the firing line for fear more than most people.

It is totally normal to get nervous and afraid sometimes. It can be very painful. In fact, throughout your career most midwives fluctuate between nerves, fear, and calm, like an oscillating wave. But it doesn’t have to be this way! There are some wonderful colleagues I know who are calm all the time.

You can learn to ride this wave, and learning how to cope is beneficial for you and your women. (After all, we need to be inducing oxytocin, not scaring it away with catecholamines!)

In my book ‘Becoming a Student Midwife‘ I use the acronym ‘DOPE’ to help students overcome nervousness in interviews.  These chilled out techniques can be easily applied in practice as well. This video looks at ‘D’. D is for:

Don’t fight with your emotions!

If you spend time concentrating on what you’re feeling, the fear tends to leave.

Don’t fight your emotions, but sit quietly acknowledging exactly what you feel.

Get specific, what does the physical sensation feel like? A buzzing in your tummy? Tingles up and down your spine? Pay close enough attention, and breathe, and you will find anxious feelings turn into something else. Often excitement, euphoria, or even calm.

This technique works because it breaks the cycle of fight/flight.

Nurse Allie Wilson from has a brilliant poem for times like these:Coping with Nervousness in Midwifery


”Breathe, you’re going to be ok,
Breathe, remember that you’ve been in this place before.
You’ve been this uncomfortable, anxious and scared.
Your survived.
Breathe, know that you can survive this too.
These feelings can’t break you.
They’re painful and debilitating, but if you sit with them,
eventually they will pass; maybe not immediately,
but sometimes soon.
They are going to fade and when they do, you’ll look back
at this moment and laugh
for having doubted your resilience.
I know it feels unbearable right now, but keep breathing.
Again and again.
This will pass. I promise.
Just breathe. x ”

W, I really hope this helps. Everyone else good luck with everything you’re up to at the moment; I really hope this technique helps you as much as it’s helped me. Coping with nervousness in Midwifery is a massive challenge, but it can be done!

Please consider sharing this with a midwifery mate, and remember to subscribe to MidwifeDiaries so you don’t miss out on any good stuff :)

Choosing Between Mayes and Myles Midwifery [VIDEO]

Most student midwives spend some time choosing between Mayes and Myles Midwifery; these are our two beloved seminal textbooks. It’s a hard choice, they’re both excellent!

Paige, a student midwife starting this year, has asked me to this video comparison. Paige, I had a look at the books, reviews, and content in detail…. and what I found out sent me plunging down the rabbit hole!

Every midwife needs a good textbook…..

I will go into detail about Mayes and Myles later on in this post. But there’s something even more important I talk about in the video. Both books are published by Elsevier.

And there is a boycott of the publisher Elsevier in progress.

14,000+ academics are taking a stand against  them, as they are being criticised for charging high prices to Unis and other more questionable practices. The Lancet claims they have been involved in the international arms trade, with countries with poor human rights records.

As midwives, and student midwives, we are in a really hard position. We need access to this information and knowledge.

I suggest buying second hand copies to avoid funding Elsevier. 

About the books:

Both Mayes and Myles are excellent resources, written by various midwifery experts. They flow well, and you can learn easily from them.

Choosing Between Mayes and Myles Midwifery

Myles (16th edition) at the time of filming (Sept 2014) has been recently updated, and covers in a contemporary way topics like obesity and female gential mutilation. Because it’s up to date, it’s a bit more expensive than Mayes.

Both books also offer online supportive learning environments – Mayes offers ‘Pageburst’ and Myles ‘Elsevier Evolve’. It’s really confusing and there are loads of different options to get onto these Elsevier sites (‘Kno’ and ‘Vital Source’ platforms anyone?!) . Some of the services look good as they include quizzes, games, and free access to your textbook in e-book form, even if you buy a paper copy.

But unless your whole class has signed up for these options, I’d say you were safe to skip using them.

Choosing between M

You can preview the books to see if you get on with the formatting and so on here: Mayes and Myles.


Myles Mayes
Edition 16th edition, 2014 14th edition, 2011
Amazon price paperback £41.39 £39.59
Amazon price e-book £38.10 £16.99


I found no cheaper prices online (though have a look around, things might change).

It’s best to get an up to date text book, but you could argue that all books are to some extent out of date, so don’t worry too much. Just quote from other sources in essays – see the link here to my other video which covers source material.

I’m not tearing any one person from Elsevier down, I bet there are some wonderful people working there.

But I am publicly stating I won’t be buying from or working with Elsevier until they clean up their act.

I really hope you found this information as interesting as I did, please consider sharing this post with another midwife or midwifery student!

Much love, I hope all is going well for all of you xxx


Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping [Video]

I’ve written about delayed umbilical cord clamping before on MidwifeDiaries. But recently a lovely student get in touch to say she enjoyed the post, so I thought it was about time I did a video on it :) This is a bitesized, whistlestop tour of all the info and evidence to do with delayed cord clamping, for your viewing pleasure!

Historically, no one thought about when it was best to clamp cords.

You’d make a big mess if you cut a cord before it stopped pulsating, so it wasn’t a decision that needed to be made! As we’ve progressed in midwifery, we’ve improved resuscitation, PPH care, and lots more besides. But this means  we are in the habit of quickly clamping the cord, and putting a plastic clip on a baby’s umbilicus.

Delayed cord clamping has lots of benefits.

These include less low birth weight, and in premature babies, less chance of sepsis and intracranial haemorrhage. It also means babies are more likely to avoid anemia for the first 6 months of life. We know that anaemia in children can cause learning disabilities and poor motor function.

It’s a stretch to say that delayed cord clamping can help with these issues – but it’s certainly not impossible.

Jaundice is more of a risk for babies that have delayed cord clamping, but as long as there is access to phototherapy, these babies still do well. You can see the Cochrane review that assessed nearly 4000 mother/infant pairs to get these outcomes here.

And if you’d like to know about this topic in more detail, you can click here for a fantastic ‘Grand Round’ on YouTube. It’s by Dr Nicholas Fogelson, and I really rate his blog!

If you enjoyed this video, please take the time to ‘like’ it on youtube, and if you’d like to see more MidwifeDiaries videos, here’s the link to subscribe:

inspirational midwifery story

A truly Inspirational Midwifery Story

The Lancet has a series of Midwifery posts that you can read for free, did you know? They’re utterly brilliant. I feel like a pig in chocolate mud.

I know midwifery can be a bloody hard slog, and though it’s a huge privilege to look after these women and their families, it’s exhausting.

The story in particular caught my eye.

Inspirational midwifery story

I’ll summarise it for you, because I know you’re busy working and generally being amazing midwives yourselves:

Continue reading

What’s It Like to be a midwife [video]

What’s it like to be a Midwife?!

This question is from Maisie, but loads of people seem to want to know at the mo! I met Freyja, who wants to be a midwife, on the wonderful world of twitter last night – seems I got this video up just in time to answer you as well hun.

On this blog, I’ll always tell you how it is, and for this question, a warts and all approach is what’s needed to give you the scoop.

Being a midwife isn’t all roses.

Being a midwife comes with a lot of responsibility, emotional demands, and long working hours. There are plenty of negative aspects of the job that you can’t shy away from when thinking about if it’s for you.

There are lots of stressful elements. However, the nature of midwifery means it’s a privileged career. Your professional status means you will be highly valued, and get to share some of the best moments of families’ lives. Empowering and supporting women is immensely rewarding.

There are so many more positives than negatives.

To quote from my book (because I can’t think of a better way of putting it)!

‘‘This is life changing stuff you’re launching yourself into. It’s not like you’ve seen on ‘One Born Every Minute’ or ‘Call The Midwife’. It’s a lot tougher – and a lot better. Midwifery is frustrating, demanding, and sometimes even scary. But it’s also life-changing, life-affirming and life-expanding.’’

- Becoming a Student Midwife: The Book for Passionate Midwives in the Making

As you may have noticed, I’m doing a lot of videos right now. Even if I’m having a terrible hair day, I write my scripts, and get on with filming because I’ve been  blown away by the support!

Bitesized midwifery is good for learning as it sticks in your mind.

If you’d like me to cover your question publicly, please comment below.

 If you like what I’m doing, please ‘like’ the videos on youtube, or perhaps even subscribe to the MidwifeDiaries Channel

What to Buy Before Becoming a Student Midwife [Video]

People ask a lot about what to buy before becoming a student midwife. These are the bare necessities.  What you strictly need to buy is probably much less than you’re thinking.

You don’t need expensive textbooks, sonicaids, or pinards. The hospital and university where you’ll be a student midwife will have these. You should also try out library books or books online and work out how you learn best before buying.

Try Amazon, or Ebay, for good deals on midwifery books.

You should decide between the two well known midwifery textbooks Myles and Mayes – these are massive and cover all the basic topics of midwifery. There’s not much to choose between these textbooks, you can’t go far wrong, but I will be doing another video on books and looking at the differences at some point soon.

I really like the Anatomy and Physiology Colouring Books to help you learn midwifery, they’re loads of fun too.

You will need to buy a notebook, black shoes, a fob watch (silicone is best, for infection control reasons), red and black biros, one good midwifery textbook to start out, and a good midwifery study space with stationary, including coloured pens or pencils.

When you’re on community you might need your own clothes, but wait until you know for sure. A very warm, smart looking coat is a good idea, as is a backpack you can carry heavy stuff in. A good lunchbox, so you can get to easily accessible snacks is a must before starting as a student midwife.

Follow the tips in the video and you’ll be all set for midwifery for not much moolah.

Is there anything else you think should make the bare essential list? What did you buy before becoming a student midwife?

If you liked this video post, please consider sharing it :)

Coping With Your First Birth as a Student Midwife [Video]

Kate, a new student midwife, emailed me about coping with your first birth as a student midwife.

She wanted to know how to cope at her first birth, as she had seen so many on TV and online that she has a lot of nervous energy and is worried about doing something silly! Hope this helps Kate!

Kate’s actual email went along these lines:

‘Do you have any tips for my first birth? I’ve always wanted to be a midwife, and I’ve read so much and watched so many births on TV or online that I’ve got a ton of nervous energy and I’m really scared about doing something stupid. Do you have any tips to help put the lady and her family at ease with me being there? How can I best help when attending my first ever birth?’

I think as well Kate, because you are sensitive enough to be thinking along these lines, one day you will make a wonderful midwife :)

Have I left any good advice out? Let me know in the comments below.

As always, if you could like and share, it’d be legendary, and help me keep making these!

Six Top Tips For Student Midwives [Video]

Often, doing my Midwifery Training, I felt like I was being swept off my feet by a wave of essays, clinical placement, and practical exams.

And I was trying to have a life at the same time!

Amy, a student on the Secret Community for Midwives in the Making, reminded me of this feeling.

She asked: ‘How can I be an effective student midwife?’

What a massive question! I’ve done lots of reading, talked to some students, midwives and other helpful people, and come up with Six Top Tips for Student Midwives.

It turns out, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed to be a brilliant student midwife!

I hope you found this helpful. Which tip can you put into practice today?!

I know you have more effective student midwife tips, what else has helped you?

Please consider liking and sharing ! It’ll help me keep Midwife Diaries going, and do more videos on other topics :)


How to become a midwife, midwifery motivation and inspiration