Preparing for a new semester

It’s not long at all until I start back in college for my second year. I’ve been getting organised, in between work and seeing friends and family, and I thought I’d share my routine with you!

 

First thing I do is organise my notes from the previous semester. After exams, my notes are in a total shambles, so I have to put everything back in order before I do anything else. It’s good for refreshing my memory on what we’ve already covered as well.

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Next, I get my big binder. You can buy them new but there’s always a local office ready to throw out a pile of them so try asking around. They’re usually happy to get rid of them, you don’t have to pay for them, and in the end you’ve managed to save something from the dump which is great for the planet!

 

My college has a website which lets you browse through the modules on different courses, I think most do. I use it to look ahead and see what modules I’ll have, what kind of assessments there are for each of them, and what kind of content there is. It gives me a rough idea of what the semester will look like. If you can get chatting to someone on the course, definitely do it! Their first hand experience is really helpful.

 

This one is fairly important: find your uniform! Every little bit – fob watches, shoes, ID cards, whatever you need. Anything that can be washed, give it a wash. My uniforms sit in a bag for months when they’re not used so I like to freshen them up and make sure I have everything.

 

I also check things like my backpack and food containers for any sign of damage or wearing down. I bought a new (cheap) backpack during first year and didn’t check it but found a big tear in the top of it on a rainy day – not ideal. So throw an eye over your everyday pieces and make sure they don’t need repair or replacement.

 

Next, I get out my planner (I always buy from the Happy Planner Company). Any dates like study breaks, placement blocks, birthdays, deadlines…they all go in as soon as I can write them down. I am one of those people who can’t function without some kind of diary and I always recommend people use one whether it’s a big paper one or an app on your phone.

 

One of the last things I do is look at stationary. I make sure I have all my bits and pieces for college and for placement before  go to the shops. Usually all I have to buy is black pens and refill pads. I’m a really visual learner so I try to have a good stock of colourful pencils and markers for my notes.

 

How do you get organised?

 

 

 

 

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So last year before I started my course I wrote an essentials list for midwifery students (which you can read here). After a year of working with what I had and envying some of the things my classmates had, I thought it would be a good idea to update a little! This is the placement list, for when you’re on the wards with women every day.

 

Black pens: this will never change. Buy a hundred. Keep them in your placement bags, your folder, your locker, your pockets. Don’t do what I do and stick them in your hair because 1. bacteria and 2. you’ll hug someone and poke them in the eye with it.

Fob watches: multiple fob watches. Preferably silicone because they’re easier to clean and there are no nooks and crannies for microbes to hide in.

Small notebook: to scribble down notes, medications, disorders, lab values…really anything and everything on placement. I prefer ring bound notebooks because they hold up a little better being pulled out of my pockets and jammed back in with pens and gloves and all the other junk in my pockets.

Hair ties and pins: to keep your hair neat. I also found myself giving women my bobbins a lot, especially on the labour ward. So now I always bring a few extra.

A journal: I love love love my reflective journal. It’s another purchase from the Happy Planner Company but any wee notebook will be perfect. It’s a really good way of working through your day once it’s over and you get a chance to sit down. Always always always keep confidentiality in mind when you’re writing. I came up with a few different ways of coding the identities of people in my care so now when I read back even I’m  not 100% sure who’s who!

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The second week of my first placement really only starts tomorrow – I've two long days and a short day, and I'm ready for it. I have to confess, like lots of other humans probably do, I was having a bit of a wobble. I was overthinking and raising expectations for myself that no one else was. But I sat down with my @thehappyplanner_co reflective journal, wrote about my last shift (Thursday) and everything just felt better. Writing has always been great therapy for me, it's the way I work things out. Don't forget to find the right way to work things out for yourself ✨ . . . . . . . . #studentmidwife #futuremidwife #reflectivemidwife #reflectivepractice #reflectivejournal #midwiferyjournal #midwiferystudent #babycatcher

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Snacks: so many snacks. Different kinds – sweet, savoury, energy boosting, chocolate goodness. Think about what will be filling but not too heavy and what will give you a lasting energy lift for those long shifts.

Water bottle: label it. Label it all over. Hydration is super important and especially so when you’re running around non stop all day.

Spare socks: your feet will get sweaty. Like really sweaty, so sometimes it’s just nice to change them during the day. When I used to work in a nursing home, especially in the summer when it was boiling hot and the heating was on full blast, it was lovely to sit down, throw a bit of talc on my toes, and put on fresh socks. Also you will definitely get some kind of bodily fluid all over and inside your shoes at some stage, so be ready!

Spare uniform: just in case.

Plastic bags: for bringing uniforms in and out. It’s a habit I picked up working in McDonald’s, basically to protect the clothes and protect your belongings from contact contamination.

Reference book: I have my survival guide in my locker all the time on placement. It’s just handy to have it there if I want to check anything on my breaks or go over something like a skill that I know I’ll be doing later in the day.

Deodorant: spray and roll on. Spray deodorant can irritate the respiratory system especially if they have disorders like asthma. I bring face wipes and bits like that as well just so I can freshen up during the day.

 

So that’s my take on the essentials for placement. If you think I’ve missed anything let me know in the comments! Keep an eye out for “what’s in my pocket” posts for the various wards you work on as a student midwife.

First placement: Postnatal ward

 

It was a fair while ago at this stage but I’m finally writing about my first placement as a student midwife! It’s times like these that I’m grateful I scribbled everything down in my reflective journal at the end of (almost) every day.

 

For confidentiality reasons I obviously can’t and won’t go into detail about individual people or families.

 

I was incredibly nervous the first day, as anyone would be. But every person we met was so welcoming, especially our placement co-ordinators. We were orientated to the hospital for most of the morning. I had my first HSE scone and have been addicted ever since!

We started on the wards in the early afternoon. Having been out of healthcare for a while it was more of a shock to my system than I was expecting it to be but the staff on the ward were obviously well used to dazed and confused first year students and looked after me until I found my feet.

I didn’t keep count of how many women and babies I interacted with or looked after which I am now of course kicking myself for! I was mainly looking after families that had had cesarean sections from the first or second hour after the surgery to up to three days after. I was lucky to not run into any particularly difficult or painful situations and I find myself thinking about different people at different moments. It’s funny how once you’ve been a part of such a special intimate time in someone’s life the kind of things that remind you of them. There’s one family who comes to mind when I see lollipops! I guess that’s just midwife life. And I’m quite happy with it.

 

Some of the skills I got to observe and practice were baby bathing (terrifying but so manageable!), changing wound dressings, helping newborns to feed from the breast and the bottle, the process of checking and giving medications, and changing many many many many nappies. I’m overwhelmingly proud to say that not one wee baby managed to christen me in pee to date! The big important skills of course were the daily newborn and woman postnatal checks. I still rely on my checklist when I do them but the theory of it all made much more sense on the last day of placement than it did the first time.

 

One of the things I feel most privileged about is that I was able to follow a family through from her pre-op preparation to her postnatal care, which meant I got to watch the cesarean and see my first birth! I had already been blown away by the strength and power of the women who had had this major abdominal surgery but to see what was involved in the actual procedure gave me a whole new perception of the power that women possess.

 

Of course it wasn’t all perfect. I struggled with feeling like a spare part, especially in the first week when I couldn’t remember where anything was kept. I found it hard to match my expectations of myself with what I was actually supposed to be doing – I found myself falling back into the healthcare assistant role a few times and had to catch myself. We were very lucky to be given a session on infant death by the hospitals bereavement midwife. It’s invaluable and essential knowledge but it was very hard on my heart.

 

So that’s my first placement! Done and dusted and passed and forever in my memory. Keep an eye out for my postnatal placement essentials list.

I’m going on an adventure!

If you follow my facebook page or my instagram you’ll know that after years and years of dreaming, I have booked to go on an elective midwifery placement in Cambodia for six weeks in the summer of 2019.

 

I’ve been dreaming about this for as long as I’ve been dreaming about midwifery. I’ve looked at multiple companies and locations. Ultimately I decided to go with Work the World. They have no age limits, a good ethical history, and were so helpful with all my questions (of which there were many) before I actually dived in and booked.

So in March, just before my second placement block, I went ahead and booked my dream. I don’t think the reality of booking it really hit me until a few days later, then I started crying and literally hopping around the place with excitement! I think my parents still don’t really believe that I’m going but there is absolutely no stopping me now! Especially as one of my loveliest classmates has booked to come along with me on this amazing journey.

 

I feel incredibly lucky to be in a position to start this adventure off. Booking alone cost €350 and with extra costs like vaccinations and flights I can easily see this tipping into €4000 by the time it’s all added up. So I’ll be doing a lot of fundraisers over the next year to earn as much as I can. I’ve already done the 2018 Women’s Mini Marathon, splitting what I raised between my fund for this trip and the Rape Crisis North East centre. I’ve set up a GoFundMe (link here) where anyone and everyone can vote on whether I should shave my flame hair or save it. And I’m hoping to make use of my self care hobby – cross stitch!

Cross stitch was something I detested in Junior Cert Home Ec, but I’ve learned to love it. It’s methodical, it’s routine, it’s hard to make a mistake. And it’s not an expensive or messy hobby, which is a bonus. A few girls in my class have asked me to make similar pieces for them so the little bit of extra money I make from them goes straight into my adventure savings!

 

I’ll keep updating as things develop but for the short and sweet versions make sure to follow our facebook page here

Student Midwife Life: Orientation week

Hello, dear readers! It’s been a crazy few weeks between registering for college, meeting classmates, and shopping, packing and moving to Dundalk . But things are starting to settle down now, which is brilliant, because in all honesty I am completely exhausted. I know, I know, if I’m exhausted now what will I be like at the end of the semester? I’ve missed solid routine though, and it’s close now.

 

 

I actually missed the first day. I was coming back from a wedding, and toddled up to Dundalk in the evening. I was honestly sick with nerves and excitement. I was fidgeting all over my room, packing and unpacking and rearranging my bag. I almost forgot to set my alarm, it was a near disaster!

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But all went off without a hitch. I got up nice and early, relaxed with my morning mocha, did my makeup, and headed off. I have to say, if it hadn’t been for getting to know a few other mature students before I went in I would have been a wreck. It was such a relief to walk into my building and be greeted with smiles and familiar faces. Even walking in with my friend was so much easier than walking in alone. If you can get to know people beforehand, DO IT!

 

We had lots of talks (in the whole 130 person first year group) and icebreakers (in the group of 20 midwives). We had a scavenger hunt across the campus, lunches together, visits from union reps, and lots of talks from occupational health, the placement office, and student services. We went through booklists, how to access Moodle, some college policies, and what to expect in the course. There’s always an overwhelming amount of information to take in on orientation week, but it always makes me glad that DkIT is a small campus, it’s impossible to get lost for very long. Already it feels like home again, and I don’t think I could be happier!

 

Now, on Thursday, I had to miss another day. This was a big day. While the rest of my midwifery group were getting fitted for their uniforms and finishing the next step in their Garda Vetting (which I’ll be catching up on as this post goes live), I was getting my McDonald’s Scholarship. €1000 for an essay on improving service for customers – I wrote about breastfeeding families and families with additional needs (despite never needing them, I’m always sad when I see disabled bathrooms with no proper facility for people above the age of two). It was a great morning, up in the Celtic Suite of Croke Park with my franchise owners, my family, my partner, and the other winners. We had a lovely lunch, lots of pictures taken, and I managed to not fall out of the stands. I’ve had fantastic support from my store and my franchise since day one, so it was nice to celebrate with them and talk about what’s up next. I was hoping to be sent pictures by this morning but I’ll post them as soon as I have them!

 

That’s pretty much it for my first week as a student midwife. Starting as I mean to go on, as busy as possible! Have you just started a new course, or gone back? Let me know how you’re getting on in the comments

 

Essentials for Midwifery

Well, the majority of offers are out and there are lots of excited future midwives around the country (and around the world). But what do you need as a student midwife? What’s the most important thing to pack in your bag? I’ve put together a list of what I won’t be leaving behind!
  • LOTS of black pens: they’re one of the most valuable things to have on the wards!
  • A5 notebook to go in your pocket on placement: great for taking note of what’s going on during the day, scribbling down words or phrases you don’t quite understand, keeping track of keycodes and staff names
  • Silicone fob watches: don’t buy expensive ones, they’ll get wrecked. Silicone is easy to clean and comes in cheerful colours and patterns
  • Lots of bobbins and hairpins, hair has to be up on shift
  • A diary or planner for keeping track of everything (personally love The Happy Planner Company student midwife diaries, about £25-30)
  • A notebook specifically for reflecting on your experiences while you study and are on placement (reflective practice is really important)
  • A USB
  • A good backpack (shoulder bags and handbags will wreck your back). I’ve been using a black Jansport backpack since 2007 – it’s been through secondary schools, Scout camps from Punchestown to Sweden, and a million other trips
  • Comfortable black shoes for placement that fully cover your feet and ideally are waterproof
  • A good lunchbox (canteen food can be nice but it gets pricey after a while!)
  • The Roar Behind The Silence by Sheena Byrom and Soo Downes: cheap on bookdepository.com and recommended by midwives around the world
  • Flask to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold: Kleen Kanteen has been recommended
  • Hand cream: washing and sanitising your hands multiple times a day will hurt your skin, a thick hand cream will help save them
  • Colouring pencils or markers for notes, especially if you’re a visual learner like me!
  • Folders for college: I’m using slim plastic folders for each module, although I know Anatomy and Physiology will require a much bigger one!
  • Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. It’s considered a bit woo-y by some but it warms my soul every time I read it and it has such important messages about trusting women

 

I hope that’s of some help! I wouldn’t go buying a lot of books before you get settled. Books for university can be very expensive (and heavy). Advice I have seen over and over again is to wait until you’ve been in the college library a few times, gotten a feel for some of the books and figured out which ones you’ll need the most. Talk to lecturers.

 

If there’s anything you think should be added to the list, let me know in the comments here, or on the facebook page.

Day of the Midwife 2017

Screenshot 2017-05-05 at 07.11.10Happy International Day of the Midwife to all of you! Whether you’ve just discovered your passion, you’re applying for a place, you’re a current student, a qualified midwife or a retired one. Today is a day to celebrate the magic we are a part of.

I’ve been thinking about what midwifery means to me. Firstly, it means hard work. Three years of applying, and four years of working my butt off to get the grades, and now to get the money together. It has been a long journey just to get to the starting line, but I am just four months away from my first day as a student midwife!

4415-8_midwifery_serviceMidwifery is a science, requiring a lot of academic commitment and hours spent with your head in a book or a journal. Midwifery is an art, a beautiful privilege for those who practice it. Each family needs to be looked like a separate but equally important piece of art. They require detail, individual attention, and time.

 

Midwifery is a struggle. It is physically difficult, bent down to observe the person in whatever position contractions have put them in. It is emotionally draining, because everyone has problems and we are there to help.

But most of all, midwifery is a gift. We are a part of people’s proudest and most important moments. We are the person they call when baby does something to worry them. We are the trusted heart and hands.

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I can’t lie, I got very emotional watching Sheena Byrom’s video this morning, which includes messages from midwives all over the world. It really got me thinking: we’re one of the oldest professions in the world. We are a part of every culture across the globe, in one form or another. We’re a strong community of people that are there 24/7 every day of the year. We are so vital.

 

So here’s to us! The midwives of the world, with woman no matter the outcomes. How are you celebrating today? ❀