Written by Tabby
BSc (Hons) Midwifery
As a student midwife I am expected to experience all that midwifery has to offer and this includes the dreaded night shift! Although I faced my first night shift with excitement, dreaming of a busy labour ward and catching my very first baby, an element of fear shrouded my exhilaration… How is my family going to cope with me away all night and how am I going to cope without them!?
Since beginning my degree in September, I’ve had to get used to 12-hour shifts and long days in the library. Here’s my first hand experience for you….
The night shift is a whole different kettle of fish and one I have had to get my head around, walking out of the house 30 minutes before my usual bedtime. I was supposed to be tidying up toys and reading bedtime stories but this evening I was preparing 12 hour’s worth of snacks and making sure my uniform was clean and ironed. I was also leaving my husband in charge for the night! I could only imagine the mayhem that would await me in the morning, which I would be expected to deal with after the shift.
I knew going into this that there would be less time for family, and we would all have to make some adjustments but now it is here I fear the worst. I imagine daddy giving chocolate for breakfast and dropping our daughter off at nursery without her bag, in a mismatched outfit with unbrushed hair.
Was I doing the right thing?
I escape my thoughts and make a final check of my bag and I am ready to go. Big hugs all round and kisses for everyone then I’m out the door and in the car. Daddy and daughter waving to mummy from the window as I drive away. A tear pricks at my eye but I hold it back with a bit of car-aoke .
On the labour ward it is just as busy as I imagined, I am taking care of a lovely couple and we chat about their newly decorated nursery and how they chose their baby’s name. We place bets on the weight and hair colour of little one.
A few hours later and baby is here, I didn’t get a catch but I witnessed a family being born. Magic!!
Its 3 am and I am sent off on my break. The MCA (maternity care assistant) has made up a fold out bed in one of the offices and I instantly search my bag for my phone expecting thousands of missed calls and messages from my husband but to my total disbelief there aren’t any messages, so I have quick look at my photo gallery then catch a few minutes sleep before setting out again.
A few more hours and I am getting tired, I’m looking after a lady who has had an epidural so she’s sleeping through her labour and her partner is snoring on the chair next to her. The room is dimmed and the rhythmic beeping of the machines sound like a lullaby. My mentor hands me the notes and asks me to document the CTG details while she goes and gets us some much-needed coffee.
At 8.15 am and It’s time to handover, I didn’t see another baby born tonight but I learnt a lot about CTG’s.
Keeping the windows down and the music loud in the car, so I don’t fall asleep on the 35-minute journey.
All the while I can not wait to see my little family but equally dreading the state of the house. Then I see her, and she sees me. She runs over and gives me a huge hug and a kiss then excitedly tells me about her morning. As she chats away and I know everything is okay. I can do night shifts and have a family life.
As for the house…. Well I’m sure I can cope with a few dirty dishes and toys on the floor. I catch a few hours’ sleep then it starts all over again, this time without fear and still full of excitement, what will labour ward be like tonight?
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BSc (Hons) Midwifery