This was the placement I was most looking forward to and also probably the most panicked about. I got in my own head a fair bit in the few weeks beforehand, thinking about every possible thing that could go wrong. But it was amazing! Potentially my favourite placement. On labour ward no two days are the same. Sometimes the whole atmosphere can change at the turn of the hour! I found the variety of who came through the door and their individual situations amazing, even if sometimes the pace of it left me feeling like I’d never walk again.
I saw two cesarean births. I witnessed three normal vaginal births. I am in equal awe and admiration of both ways of birthing. I am now even quicker to correct anyone who says one way is easier than another, because it’s not. It’s individual in terms of why someone goes one route, and the healing from both are very individual as well.
I witnessed lots of women in early labour in the admission room and in the ward, and it really hit home how individual pain management is. I also witnessed lots of birth partners having their hands squeezed and running to get ice, basically doing anything they could think of to be helpful. I did my best every day to remember that it wasn’t just intense and difficult and draining for the person in labour, it’s the same for their birth partners. I found it very difficult to not natter on when I was caring for someone, so I can only imagine how their loved ones felt!
I can’t describe what I felt during my first hands on birth. I still can’t describe how it felt to simply witness birth. It’s truly otherworldly. It’s miraculous (which isn’t a word I use often) and beautiful and powerful. Seeing my first instrumental delivery was a fair bit more of a shock reaction than any other time, as was seeing very premature babies. But taking part in that moment, with my hands on a perfectly new and unblemished human half into the world and still half inside its mother. There are no words for that. But it’s probably the closest that I’ve felt to complete peace in years.
So that’s my first ever labour ward placement! It was the hardest unit I’ve ever worked on in my entire time working in healthcare. But by far the most exciting and rewarding.