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.
”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.
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!
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