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 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 Eustacia. She's a second-year student midwife at Staffordshire University and a moderator for the Secret Community. She's a fascinating person, she does Viking re-enactment, acupuncture and crafting in her spare time, and I've often noted her taking a mentoring role with aspiring and less experienced student midwives.
Here we go!
Which books do you most often recommend to midwifery mentors and fellow students?
I love Tortura and Derrickson for Anatomy and Physiology, and also Coad and Dunstall which is childbearing focussed. Midwifery wise it has to be Sheena Byrom’s Catching Babies as it's so real and inspirational!
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 student midwife?
A fob watch and my address book. This doesn't have addresses - it has notes under the appropriate letter like drug regimes for syntocinon or guidelines for certain things*.
*note from Ellie: I think most student midwives have these!
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?
It was actually on my medicine and surgery placement and I was assisting with a central line placement. I moved awkwardly and touched the doctor's gloves just as she was fully prepped to start. She had to get new gloves and gown. I was mortified and so apologetic but she was great as were the nurses. It really helped me to make that mistake as it showed me people would only be frustrated if I didn't learn from mistakes not if I made them.
If you could put a sign up on every labour ward or work place for midwives worldwide, with a big message for every student, what would it say?
‘No-one expects you to know it all - ask for help. That will earn you respect and support.’
How do you cope with the stress of being a student midwife?
I cry, I feel, I express and reflect and then I try to chill out with something I enjoy...like crochet.
What advice would you give to a passionate, intelligent new student midwife just starting their training?
Be realistic, research the role, be aware of travelling times and distances and have childcare in place.
Caffeine or not caffeine for shiftwork?
I am allergic to caffeine so a definite no. I use fruit, nuts, and carbs with salt to keep me going. Chocolate makes me sleepier.
Can you tell us about your most favourite midwifery moment you’ve had (keeping things confidential for clients involved)?
A wonderful waterbirth, mum on all fours and watching baby's head emerge and restitute just below the water with baby's eyes wide open. Helping her to then deliver baby herself and her being the first person to touch her baby. Was just perfectly wonderful. No drugs, no interventions.
What do you do when you have lost your midwifery mojo, feel unfocused or stressed by it all?
Read a midwifery related book like Catching Babies or Call the Midwife, do something totally non-midwifery like a board game with my kids or a silly film. Talk to other student midwives and de-stress that way.
Good advice Eustacia, sometimes watching Call The Midwife can remind you how special the role is and how much the rest of the world appreciate midwives.
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did. Could you leave Eustacia and I a comment letting us know your most important realisation from her 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.
Take care, Ellie.
P.S. There is a Q and A with an admissions tutor tonight at 7.30 pm over on The Secret Community For Midwives In The Making - it's on the admissions process and UCAS and you can also ask about interviews, grades and anything else you need to know to achieve your midwifery goals. Join us here.