One part of my life is about keeping up to date with midwifery, speaking with students and midwives, and passionately moderating the Secret Community for Midwives in the Making.
Another part of my life is being part of small business and learning how to make this work. Yet another part of my life (perhaps the most important to me) is writing, with no expectation other than loving the process.
This is why one of my favourite books of 2017 was ‘Tribe of Mentors’ by the entrepreneur Tim Ferriss – I don’t demand that you love it as much as me, it’s more business-minded than anything else. But it is clever in that the book is made up of chapters written by leaders and authors answering important, interesting questions.
I thought about all the inspirational students and midwives I’m in contact with and knew I wanted to do something similar.
I wanted to have a pool of encouraging, motivational interviews which also had 'nuts and bolts' strategies for the midwifery community to draw on.
I’m working on a series of posts based on Tim Ferriss’ work. I’ve borrowed or adapted some of his top questions and am aiming to get a picture of how inspirational midwives and students really do it.
This week I’d like to introduce Carinna Griffiths, a midwife at an NHS trust in Essex, who qualified in 2016. She is passionate about educating the future workforce and is a Secret Community moderator. She lives in Essex with two fur babies and will be starting community midwifery soon.
What’s the best money you’ve ever spent on an item or experience that relates either to midwifery practice or your self care as a midwife?
I purchased myself a robust pocket book which I labelled A-Z so that I could write notes for myself in practice such as conditions, drugs, abbreviations etc which I could refer to. I started it in my first year as a student and sometimes still refer to it now as a qualified midwife.
What is your favourite moment of personal 'failure’ you’ve experienced in midwifery – something that you now remember fondly or have made a ‘come back’ from?
I can’t believe I’m actually sharing this. When I was at the very beginning of my training and I was first undertaking VE’s (vaginal examinations) I accidentally put my finger in a ladies bottom *cringe*. She knew I knew, but we didn’t acknowledge it. I quickly washed my hands and changed my gloves and she was so very kind that she never said a word, just smirked at me. I think she knew I was totally and utterly mortified! Needless to say, I haven’t made that mistake again!
*Edit from Ellie: Carinna is not the first person who has made this mistake, I've heard it from a few students and midwives! It's in the nature of the role to make this kind of error - big thanks to Carinna for sharing here - I think the quicker we can laugh at ourselves the better! 😉
If you could put a sign up on every labour ward or work place for midwives worldwide, with a big message for every member of staff, what would it say?
I think as midwives we can be the most caring people in the world, to everyone but ourselves. The pressures mounting on our profession can mean that we become demoralised and that can quickly turn to short tempers and snappiness amongst staff. We should always be patient with those around us, as our colleagues are the ones who truly understand what emotional pressures we feel. Some of my colleagues are the best friends, and most compassionate humans I’ve ever met - however they are not always kind to themselves. We need to also take time to realise that we need to take care of ourselves in order to care for others!
What is poor advice you hear being given to student or newly qualified midwives?
I cannot stand hearing people telling students or newly qualified midwives that they “must be mad” coming into the profession. I hear it sadly, quite a lot. Now I know people are going to think that I cannot speak for those who have been in the profession for 10 or more years, but the bottom line is all professions are changing. Unfortunately we live in a mitigation society now and paperwork takes over such a huge proportion of any role nowadays. However, I adore my job, yes it is challenging, and I spend far too many hours wondering and worrying about women in my care, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love my profession and only ever tell people that it’s the best job in the world. I never wake up with the feeling that I don’t want to go to work. How great is that hey?
What is something unusual you do as a midwife – is there something a bit odd you do or love which really helps in practice?
I don’t know if this is unusual, but I speak to my women as though they are my friends! ( I judge the vibe very quickly and can tell if people don’t want that kind of relationship). On the whole, I have found that women respond really well to a humanised approach. It has helped me work through difficult social and substance issues with women, as well as supporting those who are going through challenging circumstances. Obviously I never become unprofessional and discuss things inappropriately, but I speak to them on a level as I find it builds a trusting and honest relationship.
I also dance a lot at work. This amuses people greatly.
How do you cope with the stress of being a midwife?
I work out a lot. I run which clears my head and helps me to process things. I talk to my colleagues who are also some of the best friends I’ve had as they truly understand. And finally, I spend as much time with my family, friends and my two little dogs as possible.
Do you know of an inspirational student or midwife who you think I should interview? We all know and love some of the big names in midwifery but I’m very aware that many brilliant midwifery leaders do their work under the radar – yet these are people we could learn a huge amount from.
Take care, Ellie.
P.S. If you’re wanting some help with getting into midwifery, Carinna is one of the coaches affiliated with MidwifeDiaries who offers personal statement coaching. We also do interview coaching. You can email for advice, support, or more information on firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.
*Please note, Carinna is very aware of the need for confidentiality and has changed/not revealed any identifying features concerning these learning experiences