About eighteen months after I qualified as a midwife I made the decision to move to New Zealand.
I had so much wanderlust that I was dreaming about air travel and mountains and requesting to care for any client who was from the Antipodes.
I actually told a Kiwi couple I was caring for that I wanted to go in practice in New Zealand (before I told anyone else, including my family or my manager) and they very sweetly got me a thank you card and wrote ‘good luck with all your life to come’ on it; code in case any of my colleagues read it.
When I got to New Zealand, it was amazing but I did suffer from culture shock.
The hospital was small and friendly and you could see the mountain out of the North facing windows. We could help ourselves to tea and coffee and ginger biscuits at will.
The informality also made me a bit uncomfortable at times.
The independent midwives would often have their hair down or be walking about in bare feet with dungarees on.
Handover would usually start with a long catch up and a cup of tea (unless we had loads of clients and emergencies).
It also felt very weird that people would bring their little ones in and put them in the lunch room until they could be picked up by family, or their partner would pop over to eat with them on their break. Compared to the regimented, lock down ward approach I was used to back in the UK, there was a part of me that thought the lax behaviour was a little backward.
And yet, when I was working there New Zealand perinatal mortality rates were better than in the UK. This is for a multitude of reasons that I’m probably not clever enough to go into without significant research, but is it just me or was the more laid back attitude not causing any trouble? And women were more satisfied with their care, too.
We still have this strange hangover in Western culture that says no pain, no gain. When really I keep reading reviews being submitted to Cochrane that are looking at game/fun based training for healthcare professionals and there’s at least one randomised controlled trial I’ve seen that found medical students learn better through games than conventional training.
How do we promote a good culture of fun and support in midwifery settings?
If we allow ourselves to have fun while promoting the good culture in midwifery, this is likely to have more of an impact than just serious conversations and taking formal action alone.
Some ideas include:
Taking in baking
Starting a workplace Facebook group where you can swap encouragement and hilarious moments
Putting things like this on the back of the staff loo door
Any ideas to share with me? Hit reply to let me know.
To kindness in midwifery,
P.S. Remember The Kindness Conference is 11th November 2017 in Bradford. We'd love to see you there!