Diary of a Student Midwife: My Experience as a First Year

By Helen Kaye, student midwife, University of West of Scotland

My name is Helen, and I am a first, nearly second, year student midwife at University of the West of Scotland (UWS). I am hoping to write a few blog posts for MIDIRS, sharing my experiences of life as a student midwife, intended to help current and aspiring student midwives alike. My twitter and Instagram handles are both @pathtomidwifery, feel free to get in touch and let us know what you would like to see from these blog posts.

As I reflect on the first year of my midwifery degree, I have mixed emotions, but the overriding emotion is that of achievement. I have achieved things in the past year that I never thought possible. Midwifery is a career which allows us to be part of one of the most lifechanging milestones of someone’s life. As a first-year student midwife, I’ve done just that; I’ve been privileged enough to be present at a number of births and formed a part of many more pregnancy journeys.

That’s the thing about the midwifery course, you’re not eased in and kept on the side-lines. From the get-go you learn everything you need to know to form the foundations of your midwifery knowledge, preparing you for that first day on placement where it’s time for you to get involved.

My first year began with a 12-week theory block, all online due to COVID-19, where we learned the foundation knowledge required. Our first-year curriculum focuses on “normal” pregnancy and birth, so we learned the physiological changes to all the body systems during pregnancy and physiological processes of labour and birth. I personally think having the physiological knowledge forms the perfect basis for us to build on in future years when we start learning about complications and emergencies. After all, how can you learn about when things don’t go to ‘plan’, if you don’t know what the ‘plan’ is?

This theory block took us to Christmas where we had a well-needed three-week break. When we returned in January, we had a 6-week theory block, consolidating our knowledge and learning about more practical skills. In February, we embarked on our first placement, a six-week block which for me was in Best Start, the Scottish continuity-based model of care (blog post about my experience on Best Start will be coming soon). Other members of my cohort started community or ward-based Antenatal/Postnatal placements, or Labour ward placements.

We then had two weeks off around Easter, before starting our next seven-week placement block, where I stayed at Best Start, while others rotated around the Antenatal/Postnatal/Labour ward placements. I really enjoyed staying at the same placement; especially given the continuity-based nature of Best Start. As a first year, I felt this gave me a lot more confidence than if I had started somewhere new.

Finally, it was time for our last placement, a seven-week block on Labour Ward for me. The big, scary, dreaded Labour Ward. The environment of a Labour Ward is indescribable; there is a constant hustle and bustle, and a continual sense of disquiet as to what will happen next. Labour, and therefore a Labour Ward, is totally unpredictable. It’s a lot to walk into as a first-year student, but you’ll get through it, and look back on it as a huge learning curve.

I’ve done it, first year complete, and you will too! To all aspiring and future student midwives – enjoy it, relish every moment, and relax now while you can…