So, you’re a student midwife?

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By Bec Lloyd, Student & ACM Midwifery Education Advisory Committee student member

Say it out loud, “I’m a student midwife”. How great does that feel?!

It probably seems ridiculous that I’m so excited for a group of people I’ve never met, but I genuinely am! There are so many incredible, challenging, rewarding, enlightening and thoroughly satisfying moments and ‘firsts’ ahead of you. You are going to amaze yourself.

Firstly though, I want to start by simply saying - welcome! Welcome to this amazing profession, you are about to join a big, warm group of passionate professionals who advocate for not only the women and families we care for but also, each other. And, while I can promise you that this degree is tough and all-consuming at times, it is 100% worth it.

Over the next few weeks especially, but in fact your whole career, you will be asked: What drew you to midwifery? The answer almost always includes a love for babies (because, who doesn’t?), but it also might be that you have a passion for women’s health; it might be that your mum was a midwife; or maybe you have been inspired by your own personal experience with a midwife. Whatever the answer right now, it will change, evolve and eventually develop into your own personal midwifery philosophy.

Along the way you will inspire, and be inspired, and I encourage you to be fully present in those monumental moments that you will be sharing ‘with woman’. These tiny snapshots in time will influence your personal and professional growth and eventually lead you to become the type of midwife whose name is fondly etched in the memory of those you have cared for. Isn't that just the single greatest incentive in the world, besides maybe chocolate, and trust me - midwives get a lot of that too!

But as is the case for most things worth having, becoming a midwife doesn't come easily. You will need your ‘village’ and a plan for getting through uni, which aims to maintain a good work-life balance. I wanted to share with you a few strategies that helped me throughout my time as a student.

So, here are my Top 10 steps to help you survive and thrive, during this degree:

  1. Be inspired!
    • There are so many Instagram accounts and personal or professional blogs that share funny, beautiful, poignant, informative, educational and inspiring images and words that make you appreciate birth work. On the days where you need your passion reaffirmed, these usually reignite the spark.
    • You can start by reading one of my favourite blog posts here:

  2. Get Involved

    • Make friends and network, attend conferences (submit an abstract if you’re feeling brave!), join in at ACM branch meetings. One of the greatest ways you can thrive in our profession is by fostering a sense of belonging.

  3. Use a semester planner

    • This way you can prepare for upcoming assessments, placements and life, in general. But also, this will help you with the ever important time management skills which are absolutely necessary when you start working in our busy maternity environments.

  4. Research how to research (effectively) - it’s not as easy as it looks.

    • Keep an eye out for some upcoming webinars from the ACM’s education unit!

    • Learn how to reference properly: Accurate citation = easy marks on your assessments.

  5. Make glossaries for everything (I love glossaries!)

    • medical suffixes and prefixes

    • medications

    • clinical terms

    • common abbreviations and acronyms

    • intelligent-sounding words to use in your essays (not even joking!)

  6. Find different ways to study

    • Not everyone can read a text or attend a lecture and grasp all of the learning outcomes. As midwives, we embrace and encourage diversity and this includes acknowledging different learning styles. Some people enjoy group study, some require solitude, others are visual learners (YouTube is great for this). Find what works for you and you will find that studying is actually enjoyable!

  7. Embrace the midwifery tradition of sharing information
    • Midwifery has been built on the knowledge and practices of many generations of wise women before us and this came about through the sharing of information - keep this up by sharing resources, knowledge and information. Support the growth of each other.

  8. Treat your placement like a really long job interview

    • It is no secret that graduate jobs are very competitive.

    • To give yourself the best chance possible - act professionally, courteously and within your scope AT ALL TIMES.

  9. Self-care, self-care, self-care!

    • This is so important and probably should have been the first thing on the list……

    • You can’t pour from an empty cup (there had to be a cliche in here somewhere) but it is true, the demands of this degree include managing a caseload of Continuity of Care Experiences where you are on-call 24/7; shift work; study; contact hours; assessments; plus any other non-midwifery commitments you have. It is FULL-ON.

    • Make time for yourself and the people and things you love - don't forget there is life to be lived.

  10. And finally.... Don't ever doubt yourself. You've got this!