At the beginning of January 2018, I thought about all the inspirational birth world people I’m in contact with.
I wanted to have a pool of encouraging, motivational interviews on Midwife Diaries which also had 'nuts and bolts' strategies for the midwifery community to draw on.
I developed some questions to send out to those women and men who I know have stories to tell and ideas to add to midwifery's cultural bloodstream.
The response has been amazing. I have some brilliant advice sitting in my inbox and I'm enjoying the meeting of minds that happens when I get to post these interviews.
This week I’d like to introduce Paul Golden. His background is as a midwife and paediatric nurse and he has a career spanning many different areas: lecturing and education; law; mediation in healthcare; and independent midwifery.
He has worked in Australia, New Zealand, China, North India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Korea, and various countries in Europe, in many different roles - in short, he's a midwife worth listening to.
Here we go!
What is something unusual you do as a midwife – is there something you love which really helps in practice?
I encourage and provide the use of water to relax in labour. I suggest trying out for one minute if someone is unsure. It may not be right for everyone, but could be used much more than it is.
Which authors and books do you most often recommend to midwives and students?
Active birth and yoga books by Janet Balaskas
Ina May Gaskin
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?
Travel... going to places, seeing differences and unlearning conditioning.
If you could put a sign up on every labour ward or work place for student midwives worldwide, with a big message for every member of staff, what would it say?
'Be the example; be who you would like others to be'
How do you cope with the stress of being a midwife?
Yoga, swimming, debriefing, and reflective writing.
In the last five years, what is one realisation about midwifery that has improved your practice or life as a midwife?
Midwifery is global. The rewards and the challenges are similar globally. Therefore we could build strong support networks beyond our local areas.
What advice would you give to a passionate, intelligent newly qualified midwife just starting their career?
Get out of the system. Go and work with an independent midwife in the UK, New Zealand - anywhere. Get a mixture of experiences that stretch you. Protect yourself with strong self care. Build strong, open, honest partnerships with women. This will reduce possible complaints. Be political. Midwifery is generally passive which can lead to apathy. Being active will bring great challenges and rewards.
Caffeine or not caffeine for shiftwork?
Generally not but if essential as a one off to stay awake, ok. Other options I use are: yoga, breathing, showering, or a quick swim if possible.
Can you tell us about a favourite midwifery moment you’ve had (keeping things confidential for clients involved)?
Being there for each mother, father and baby are all favourite moments. Maybe being there for those who have been marginalised in some way or told they cannot do xyz and then you can facilitate the birth they wanted. I've achieved this by going to another country to be there for a woman who was told she 'couldn't' have a home birth because she was high risk. It is her choice and her risk. She thought hospital was too much of a risk from prior experiences. That was an empowering decision and experience for her. A perfect birth. A way of providing for her human rights.
What is poor advice you hear being given to student or newly qualified midwives?
'Just suck it up. Keep quiet about your ideas. Build resilience to bullying.' Also an emphasis on over working.
What do you do when you have lost your midwifery mojo, feel unfocussed or stressed by it all?
Leave - walk away. Go and climb a mountain, take time out. Be with myself. Refresh, then return to give high quality care.
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did. I've travelled to New Zealand to work as a midwife and I've had a placement in India, and these did help me see the bigger picture and relax into the role of a midwife. Have you travelled anywhere with the career?
Could you leave Paul and I a comment letting us know your most important realisation from his answers?
And also, 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. See the quiz here.
Take care, Ellie.