May 5th is International Day of the Midwife, and we want to salute those who brought our babies safely into the world. Since December, Pampers has been rallying the nation to say #ThankYouMidwife, after it was revealed that 1 in 3 midwives in the UK feel under-appreciated. The Motherload® is backing this campaign all the way – these women (and a handful of men) do incredible work supporting us through one of the most amazing, difficult, life-affirming, painful and transformative times of our lives. Join us and Pampers to say #ThankYouMidwife on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and Pampers will donate £1 to the Benevolent Fund for the Royal College of Midwives. Amazing!
A Day in the Life of Abbie Fry, Midwife and Mum.
It’s 7pm, which for mums all across the land means bedtime and then collapsing in front of the TV with a glass of wine, scrolling through Facebook and unwinding from the stresses of the day. 7pm for a midwife means leaving for the night-shift. Uniform on, tights and sturdy shoes on, pocket full of pens, fob watch and ID badge.
We might grab a coffee on the way, a much-needed caffeine boost to set the night off to a good start, having already been up for 12 hours that day with a small person.
Arriving at work to see some of your friends and know you’re in for a good shift. Coming onto the ward and into handover, jokingly saying “morning!!” To anyone you pass – that one never gets old. Taking a quick glance at the board and wondering whether you are in for a pleasant night or not!
The next 12 hours can be so varied, no shift is the same which is what I love most about my job.
Every single time I come to work I experience something different, a new face, a new family, a new life I have shared a small part of.
When it’s busy, it’s so damn busy. No time to wee. As a student I thought – how can you not have time to wee? But when you’re in the throes of labour with someone you’ve been caring for for the past ten hours, who may be clinging to you for dear life as you encourage them to just keep going – somehow your bursting bladder is forgotten at that moment.
Observations, medications, care plans and doctors’ rounds – being a midwife isn’t just delivering babies. We look after women with complications before and after birth. We are in the operating theatre, assisting for caesareans. We suture, we cannulate, we take blood. We sit for hours helping you to breastfeed. In an emergency we come running down the corridor ready to meet whatever situation requires our help – ready to work as a team to save lives.
We counsel you, guide you, monitor you and support you. We work alongside doctors, maternity support workers, theatre nurses and recovery staff, ward clerks, sonographers, cleaners. The list is endless but we all have our part to play.
The camaraderie of the night-shift is incredible. We are all exhausted but we work together, we keep things going when we are full to the brim – no room at the inn, but we find it. Those nights where the phone doesn’t stop and it feels relentless – we just keep going until the night is through.
Then in the brief (but rare) lulls we chat and laugh and do the occasional McDonald’s run and when we hit the wall at 5am, a round of tea and toast to keep us going.
We deliver babies in the backs of cars, the car park or in a lift (thankfully infrequently!) We accompany women on blue light transfers, sat in the back of an ambulance making small talk to keep them calm as they are transferred to a specialist hospital.
As midwives we meet women at their most vulnerable but also their strongest.
We see women achieve incredible things, that they didn’t dream they would be able to do.
And we see such sadness. Babies who were ready to be born and perfect in every way, yet are born sleeping. The cries of a mother holding her lifeless baby are sounds we will never forget. We stay strong for you in that moment, we wash and dress your baby, taking photographs to provide you much needed memories but we cry as we leave. We shed a tear on the journey home and hug our babies a little tighter.
I always joke to friends and family that I do my job for the love, not the money. In inflation terms we haven’t had a pay rise since 2007. What other career would you pursue knowing that you were likely to be underpaid and understaffed? We do it for the love, the love of caring for women and their families and helping them to safely achieve the greatest moment of their lives.
We go without breaks, we stay after our shifts and we work overtime when the wards are short.
The #ThankYouMidwife campaign has shed some light of the hard work and passion that goes into midwifery.
I never expect thanks for what I do, after all, I am doing a job I am paid for. But the thank you cards and messages I have received over the years mean so much to me – to know I have made a lasting impression on a family means a job well done, whatever the circumstances.
So I leave the hospital at 7.30am, passing colleagues and saying “goodnight!” with a weary smile – that one never gets old either! Heading home, going against the rush hour traffic, all thoughts are of crawling into bed.
Through the door and shoes off – the carpet feels blissful for my aching feet. I peel off my uniform which could have been splashed with all manner of fluids and dive into the shower. A kiss for the toddler as she heads to nursery and I wave my husband off to work. Then collapse into a fitful sleep – waking every few hours for a wee – and heaven forbid should the postman knock! A few hours later and it’s time to do it all again, joking with my husband that we are like passing ships in the night.
My favourite moment as a midwife is placing your baby on your chest and hearing that first cry.
To witness the look on your faces as you breathe a sigh of relief that your baby is here safely and – you did it!! That moment is incredibly special. And when someone says “thank you, we couldn’t have done it without you” I am humbled by this because I feel so privileged just to be there.
The satisfaction of knowing I have made a difference is worth more to me than material gifts. Those moments are priceless. But if you ever did want to thank your Midwife, please know that we will treasure your kind words for years to come because we know that you felt safe and cared for. And that is why we are here.
Share your story about your amazing midwife and join us to say #ThankYouMidwife on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, and Pampers will donate £1 to the Benevolent Fund for the Royal College of Midwives.
Disclaimer: Sponsored editorial: Pampers has paid for this article to be written by The Motherload®.