As someone who spends a lot of time conversing with student midwives, I’m aware of how important good support systems are.
I’d like to share an account of a student midwife going through that transitional second to third year stage and how her personal tutor supported the process.
'A kind word, a silent smile, a listening ear, a nod of encouragement… was all it took for me to feel cared for, listened to and supported. I didn’t expect to be sat pouring my heart out to my personal tutor for two hours.
I only popped in for 5 minutes, but it just happened. I felt safe, I felt secure. And most importantly, I felt heard for the first time in so long. I no longer felt suffocated. I felt able to breathe because I had finally opened up about everything that had been slowly tearing me apart. With each word and every tear, I felt the weight slowly lifting off my shoulders knowing that someone was sat in front of me who really cared about how I was feeling. She selflessly gave me her time, her empathy and her support. She hugged me, assured me that everything would be okay and said that she was proud of me for taking that step… and I believed her because I trusted her.
That day changed everything. That small act of kindness was the start of my ‘healing’ process.
Months have passed and whilst I am still making my way through my personal journey of grief and acceptance…when I look in the mirror I now see a positive and much stronger student midwife in a much happier personal space, starting my third and final year. Personal experiences and challenges inadvertently shape us into the future midwives that we will be and give us strength to overcome adversities that we face during our journey.
Having support from loved ones, friends, mentors, colleagues, peers, midwifery lecturers and in my case… personal tutors has proven to be an invaluable part of studying a midwifery degree, and I cannot express the amount of gratitude and respect I have for her for lifting me out of the black hole and guiding me into a newfound sense of self-care, self-belief and self-worth. Too often we underestimate the power of kindness and the potential it has to turn someone’s life around. It only takes a moment to be kind, but it takes a special person to make a difference.'
There is so much good stuff going on in midwifery, I hope I’m getting a balance across in this email series.
Stories like this are why we're calling it ‘The Kindness Conference: Getting Good Midwifery Cultures to Flourish’.
The other thing I wanted to mention is as students we will do stupid things sometimes. I remember labelling a baby’s bands wrong once, arg, very bad mistake!!
So mentors and personal tutors thanks for doing an incredibly important, spectacularly difficult job and forgiving us when we accidentally make things harder. And we're grateful you're there when we need to cry or vent.
We know you got into midwifery because you love women. You want to see them well cared for. You need recognition and support to do that.
Midwifery mentors and teachers: Please know we support you. Nobody is more important than those who pass hard won knowledge about how to care for women and families on to the next generation.
Shall we round off with a W.H. Auden quote?
‘We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don't know.’
To kindness in midwifery,
P.S. Are you coming to the Kindness Conference? I'd love it if you did. Details are here and don't forget your discount code - it's 'KIND'.